Christmas 2006: The Real Deal and The Story of the Nannynapping

Non-equity partnership for sale.  Just $65,000 a month. Cash.  You keep the Change.

It SUCKED.

Okay, so here is the thing. This letter never went out, and I’ll be honest – we were having some pretty rough times in our household. But, since you are on the inner circle, here it is…in all of its naked glory.

We should have seen it coming, they cut our budget for the Little Steeplechase Party, and John after having his best year at The Firm got a Golf Putter for his holiday bonus “thank you”. Then, they offer him a non-equity partnership if John agreed to pay them $65,000/month. Oh, we could keep the remainder of his fees (what?).

While he was stewing on that bit of bullshit, it was Good Friday when we got the call that the Firm was bringing back the Chumpp to be a partner, imagine “Opie Taylor” crossed with the kid from MADD magazine. They didn’t even talk to John about it; they actually announced it when John was out of Town. So, being the man of his word, and a man with a wife that easily says, “HELL NO!” John quit The Firm. It was very “Firm Like” and ridiculous. They actually SERVED us with some papers and then we had to spend the summer using a real lawyer to write letters to their collections attorney neighbor explaining that John wasn’t violating anything, that he wasn’t an indentured servant, and that his gig was up.

Fantastic!

John jumped off the ship at The Firm right at the peak of the real estate boom, and just in time for the summer holiday. So, being clueless that we were that our neighborhood was not the protected enclave that we believed it was, we didn’t immediately sell the house and move (when we had multiple offers that were fantastic). No, instead, we put enough crap in the back of a rented U-Haul truck and decided to go to St. Simon’s Island for the summer instead. We insisted that we weren’t moving, that the Firm couldn’t scare us away, and that we’d be perfectly fine with John working in St. Simon’s for the next two years while I (under medication) stayed on the ship and raised the kids.

It was only two years right?

So the turning point goes something like this… Let’s go back to that fateful day in July 2006. I made arrangements for our nanny to join us in St. Simon’s for the month of July. I even get the nanny a health club membership too (never hire a fit nanny with an eating disorder) and we pre-pay her for the summer. Nanny works for a friend, (qualified as a maid of honor, Godmother, and someone related to the Katrina ordeal) on the side when the friend comes to town and stays at our house in Tampa to work for a doctor’s office.

Nanny and friend discuss some work during July. Nanny and friend make arrangements. Nanny fakes sick on St. Simons, plays homesick (the day after phone call with friend where friend slips that nanny is going back to Tampa to watch friend’s kids chez my house).

I come out of a yoga savasana (corpse pose) and realizes that I’m totally being screwed over. I confront Nanny, I fire Nanny.

I let friend know that my house wasn’t available for Nanny to work in, since she’s now been fired. No surprise, I never hear back from the friend (friend’s never apologize right?), and realize maybe friend wasn’t a friend after all.

At this point the depression of the entire drama of moving and having John not be around really sets in. I wasn’t going to be able to survive two months, let alone two years. John was traveling a bunch to Atlanta from St. Simons, and I was alone on the island with the three kids (we did have frequent company, but I had never really been that alone with the kids before and the reality of it all was sinking in.) It was then that I made the grown up suggestion that we just sell the house in Tampa, move to Atlanta, and make a go at the business succeeding…together.

We came back to Tampa in time for school to start and the real estate market to be officially tanked. It took forever for the house to sell (the entire school year). If we’re being totally honest, we were asking a little too much, but hindsight has x-ray vision. John drove back and forth to Atlanta and took shelter in my friend’s basement (thank the Lord). Business was slow (to be vague, but optimistic).

We prayed a lot and lived off of the line of credit we got the day John quit the Firm.

Finally, in the eyes of despair, and the stomach that feels constantly nauseous, we started to pray, light candles, and pull out all of the catholic voodoo tricks. Just to give some insight as to how scary it actually was, and how tight the money was, there was a day in January when we got a prospect over the internet. John got up at 4 in the morning in Tampa and drove all the way to Georgia (Reynold’s Plantation due west of Atlanta). He met with the prospect and then drove all the way home, finally getting back at midnight. It was just insane. I ended up buying him a Garmin for his birthday because I was worried about him driving in weird places with Mapquest directions in his hand. I guess it’s easy to talk about something like this when it’s all behind you, but damn, when we were going through it, and people would ask how it was going, I felt like such an ass saying, “oh, it’s great”. I was totally lying. John and I would look at each other with these glazed over agonizing eyes and just want to go puke on ourselves.

The clock was ticking, we weren’t doing Christmas (were relying on our parents to take care of the kids) and were going to pay the mortgage instead. We quit the country club, I stopped playing tennis (no one asked me to play) and the phone wasn’t ringing with social invitations. I just wanted to cry. Actually, I cried a lot.

I have decided to just give myself a pass on the first year of the Company and know that John and I have a much deeper relationship and love for each other because of it. He’s always been an awesome person. I’m a better person too.

I learned to deal with my children without medication (I ran out and couldn’t afford the psych visit), and used a lot of deep breathing techniques instead of hyperventilation and a plastic bag over my head. Sure, we adore our kids, but kids move away.

John and I maintain that we are best friends and we pick each other up, love each other unconditionally (my flaws and all), and have clearly articulated what is important to us both for the long run. We’re in this together until the end, that’s for sure.

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