Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Baby Spit

So, I may be "with child", at least for now, but that does NOT mean that I will happily clean up your child's vomit. No, not because it's "good practice" or I need to "get used to it". I'm sorry, I'll deal with my child's vomit when it happens, until then, I do not see how my reluctance to clean up your child's vomit affects my ability to be a mother. So stop looking at each other with knowing eyes and suggesting I'm unfit, unprepared, or otherwise doomed for failure.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

More on the Baby Front

I'll probably start a different blog for all the baby stuff. Because I might want to share that with family eventually...maybe...but this blog, is not for them. But, I did want to add more to the baby story before I forgot and don't have a new blog yet, so the baby stuff is going here for now. I'm very sorry if you're not interested.

So, I took the first hpt Christmas like 3:30 am because that's when I woke up. Since we've been back from Rome we've been EARLY morning people. It's getting better, but for the first 3 days or so we were getting up around 4am! Today I slept all the way to 6:30am, go me! Anyway, I slipped into the bathroom and opened the single test I had purchased before we left for I said before, I kind of thought I'd need it.

Peed on the stick, put it on the back of the toilet and then washed my hands. Then proceeded to blow my nose - I've been sick - which gave legitimate reason to stay in the bathroom as I was pretty sure Mr. Man was awake, or at least semi-awake, in bed. And there it was. A pink plus sign. And I stared at it...not quite believing what I was seeing. I mean, seriously...sure I'd THOUGHT that was what would happen, but seeing it was still totally shocking somehow.

So I left it in the cupboard over the toilet, and went back to bed. Where I mulled it over in my mind, and fidgeted and sniffled enough to annoy Mr. Man. I got back up, went to the bathroom, blew my nose again, and retrieved the stick, after taking another long look. I got back in bed and stashed the stick in my nightstand. Then fidgeted and sniffled some more. Mr. Man had enough. He suggested, kindly, that I just get up as I was clearly not going back to sleep. So then I said, I have a present for you! Can I give it to you and then we can go back to sleep? (ha! yeah right!) He said was too early, but go ahead and get up if I wanted. So I did - and that's when I wrote the post on Christmas morning. See, you Internets found out before Mr. Man. How about that? (or would have if anyone actually read this blog, but I like pretending)

Then I was left trying to decide how to tell him. I'd daydreamed this whole thing in the shower one day when I was suspicious. (I daydream in the shower makes for long showers and high water bills, but I enjoy it) In the daydream I took the test Christmas morning because that would be the latest my period should be starting, and, hello? it's Christmas! How romantic! Okay, well, check! did that. In the daydream then I put the stick in a pretty bag or something, and put it under the tree...but hidden. We open all the presents from our families (we got nothing for each other as Rome was our Christmas present...and a baby apparently) and then at the end I pull out this gift bag and say one of a couple different options. (extensive daydreams people) Option 1: I know we weren't supposed to get gifts for each other, but you can't return this one and we made it together (insert sappy smile, cheesey music) I think it's okay - hand him the bag, he opens it, look of surprise (music soars) , hug, yada yada. Option 2: I know we weren't supposed to get gifts for each other, but I already peed on it so you can't return it...hand him the bag, he grabs it delicately with a look of concern, threatens to not open it, I encourage him, he sees the stick and then we hug and kiss, yada yada.

Well, I wound up doing neither exactly...after writing the Christmas Day post, I went back into the bedroom and grabbed the stick, and my iPod for pretense, and then left. I stared at it in the office by the computer. The wrapping stuff was in the office, but we had no gift bags that were Christmas-y. We had paper and boxes, but that seemed like too much trouble. So I just grabbed some silver tissue paper, and wrapped the stick in that. Simplest is best, right? Or I'm lazy. Take your pick.

Well, that was sitting on the desk next to me when he came in about 20 minutes later and said, okay, I'm up, we may as well go open our presents. At 5 am. Best time to open presents if you ask me. ;-)

He turned to leave so I quickly grabbed the stick in the tissue paper, hid it in the blanket I'd been sitting with, and followed him downstairs. The stick would stay hidden in that blanket while we opened all the other presents (and started breakfast - orange rolls, yumm!).

So, after we opened all the gifts under the tree, I told him, I have one more present for you. And I couldn't keep the grin off my face. He looked at me suspiciously, but with a grin to answer mine. I grabbed the tissue out of the blanket, and just handed it to him, wordlessly, with a smile. He looked at me quizzically, and then unwrapped it, looked at it for maybe a second and then exclaimed, are you serious?!? And then jumped up and hugged me so tight! A hug and a kiss, another hug and a kiss, then back to looking at the stick. Looking at me, at the stick...and

So that was it. After my clever ideas in the daydream...wordless was best.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

So much to say. So much has happened! We went to Rome - amazing. We didn't know it, but we may have had an extra passenger...

I took a home pregnancy test this morning. It's funny. I'd suspected I might be pregnant since shortly before we left for Rome actually. So for a little over a week now, maybe even a week and a half. I know, I know. You can't TELL you are in the first few weeks. But...well, I really thought I could. I don't know what to tell you. But even after thinking I was knocked up for a week and a half, I was still surprised to see the positive plus sign this morning. And now...I feel like we may be in waaaay over our heads. Which I think means I have a healthy sense of reality.

So why did I think I was preggo, even before a positive test? Well, it's funny...I've started thinking I'm a mittelschmertz woman. You know, the weird ones that can feel themselves ovulate? I'd started tracking it and this was the second know, to see if it tracked. So far, indeed it does!

Now, we weren't trying to get pregnant. As in, we weren't charting and purposefully getting intimate at "fertile" times of my cycle. In fact...we'd only been intimate once this last cycle. We were going to get all hot and heavy in Rome but I got sick - nasty snotty, coughy sick...not exactly romantic. :) But when I was looking up cycle stuff to see about mittelschmertz before we left, I wound up curious. Our "intimate time" - you know, The Sex - had occurred 3 days before my "mittelschmertz" - supposed ovulation. Surely...SURELY sperm don't live that long? Dr. Google will tell you they can...inside a woman.

Huh. How about that. I tried to push it out of my head. I mean...seriously. Get real. And then the boobies got tender. But hey, that happens normally in my cycle. Maybe not this much...maybe not this week, but whatev. I'm not on birth control, things could be off. Then on the plane and throughout the trip I noticed I was way more sensitive to smell than Mr. Man. Hmm...isn't that...? Nahhhhh. I mean, I usually have a more sensitive sniffer...and then last night I made sugar cut-out cookies. You know...the kind with the incredibly yummy, possibly salmonella tainted, dough? Well I tasted a little of the dough...and it didn't...taste good! I mean, I was pretty sure it tasted right, but I didn't want to eat any more. Alarm bells? I think so.

And still, I'm not 100% convinced as I write this. I find myself thinking I should get another test...just to be sure. And reminding myself that miscarriage in the first 12 weeks is sadly common. other words, I'm not counting this baby before it "hatches." But...we just might, maybe be pregnant.

Merry Christmas to us! (and we said Rome was our gift to each other this year)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Insert Foot Here

Well I feel like an old calloused heel (pun intended). So, in my last post, I complained rather loudly about my husband's impending descent into clinical depression, which is so nice to begin with. Well, I had resolved that if he was unchanged the following day, I would strongly suggest gently encourage him to seek counseling. I would start there and then see how far it had to escalate before he got help or something...

Well, it looks like he just needed the evening to himself and a good night's sleep. Because the next day he was better.

So that's that. I'm just a callus old heel.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Already Behind

Well, I guess I'll go back to posting when I feel like it. More like when I find the time. That's fine.

Even though I'm trying to include more positive stuff, tonight is not the night.

Mr. Man and I are stressed. Very stressed over the house stuff. We're also leaving for Europe in less than a week. Mr. Man also no longer really likes his job. He went from LOVING it to feeling frustrated because it's not a "career". Today and the past few days he's been extra doom and gloom. I can't take it much more.

Seriously, when he's depressed, which I would say he is heading back into clinical depression, it's like a life-sucking gray cloud hangs over him and around him. It is not fun to be around to him, to attempt to talk to him, or otherwise have anything to do with him. I guess this is the "worse" part in better or worse.

The problem is...I don't know what more I can do. I offer to listen, but he doesn't want to talk. I try to do things to cheer him up, he barely grimaces in return. I'm considering tough love, but I'm not sure that is what he needs. I think he needs a counselor, but he "hasn't found one he likes". I just want to call bull shit and say keep looking. For God's sake do something. But instead he just despairs himself into a black hole.

And it's not like I'm super mentally stable here. I'm borderline depressed too. I feel like a failure too. This shit is happening to me too. And on top if it, I'm working TWO jobs, both of which are more demanding than his one, thanks very much. Sure pretty flexible hours, but way more demanding.

What kills me is that we're supposed to be best friends. Partners. And he's shutting me out. Whenever anything gets tough, he shuts down, and shuts me out. What kind of friend is that? How can we be partners when he excludes me from the important stuff?

The worst part is, I feel like he's all talk and mope, and no action. You want a career sir? Then go fucking get one. Stop the woe-is-me-my-life-is-shit routine and do something about it. Until now we needed you to keep a job to pay the mortgage. Now? We're short selling the house and not paying the mortgage, so go do whatever it is you have to do to Pull. Your. Head. Out.

Ugh. I'm just so frustrated.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Saw this from PhDcomics, had to share:

Monday, December 7, 2009

Maybe...Every Other Day

That seems a little more reasonable. And do-able.

Yesterday we busted our butts cleaning and re-arranging our house. Staging it, as it were. (that's what they call it in the biz) Yeah, we're no where near done. We have a lot of STUFF. The kind of clutter and personal items that we're supposed to expunge from the home. But...where do we put it?

And it's kind of heart breaking. It's been all well and good to talk about financially sound choices and decide things based on numbers, but when we get down to it. We're moving. We're selling our house. We won't get to live here any more. And that's sad!

But I remind myself we were going to leave eventually anyway. And now we get an extra adventure thrown in that we never expected. Maybe that will turn out to be the best kind...

Of course, the fact I loathe surprises doesn't help sell that idea...

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Over the past 6 months or maybe a little more I've been realizing more and more that life really just is a series of choices. There's no magic formula - no correct sequence to complete the level. In fact, there are no levels. I hadn't even realized that I really viewed life as a video game with a "right" combination to get to the ending one wants, until that view started falling away.

You have choices, and you live with the consequences. That's it.

My dad would say there is just one choice: be good or not. Everything else falls from that. It makes sense.

But doesn't entirely help my decision making process currently. As much as I feel that short selling our house is the "right" or best decision for our circumstance - I still feel guilt. I still worry I won't like the consequences. But ultimately, we can only make the best decision we can based on the information we have. Sadly, short sale is the best option.

So then we have to choose who to sell our house with - do we go with an investment company that seems sketchy but could be legit and would be faster (thus minimizing damage to our credit) or do we go with the real estate agent that totally checks out, would only be representing our interests, not her own, but would take longer as we'd have to wait for a buyer (thus more potential damage to our credit)? We're leaning toward the second option heavily. I guess we can always go back to the first one if we're way into the process and no buyers are turning up...

This weekend will be busy - and it's half over! I have papers to write, paperwork to get in order and a house to clean and stage. Oh yeah, and a trip to Italy to plan. *deep breaths* and one thing at a'll get done.

Friday, December 4, 2009

New Leaf

So far I've used this blog to vent. The consequence of this is that all the stressful, potentially negative or otherwise unpleasant things in my life are recorded. How sad! I've thought about this for awhile and want to start writing something everyday...good or bad. And hopefully it'll start to even out and be a more representative sample of what's actually going on.

The trouble with that, while it sounds good, is that I'm mostly motivated to write when I need to vent. Not when things are going well.

So we'll see how this goes.

For now I would like to say that I'm getting very excited and nervous about Italy. It's sure to be an adventure...I'm excited for all the new experiences. But starting to get nervous about all that could "go wrong". I try to remind myself that as long as we both live through the ordeal and make it back in one piece, everything else is just "adventure" but it's not very comforting. I'd prefer to not get robbed. I'd prefer to not miss a plane. I'd prefer for our luggage to not get lost or stolen. :)

I've also found an apartment that I think will be EXCELLENT. I've got my heart set on us living there after we have to leave the house...I hope it's as excellent as I think. And I hope it works out...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Spilling My Guts

So, after not talking to anyone before making the decision to short sale the house - I promptly proceeded to tell nearly anyone who remotely asked how things were going. Ugh. I have GOT to learn to keep my mouth shut. Hopefully, I have, as this guilt settles in.

Of course, I think spilling my guts to my entire family and a few close friends is probably better than Mr. Man's approach - where he has not even told his own father. The dear man heard that we were going to Italy and responded with something to the effect that he was glad he no longer had to worry about us and our financial stability. Hah! Maybe he knows more than Mr. Man discloses...if not it's quite ironic.

While I do think it's appropriate for me to NOT tell the whole world about our situation - besides the Internets of course, there was a moment where I think it became entirely appropriate to spill it.

For Thanksgiving I got to go home and visit my family. Mr. Man couldn't come, which was sad -but worked out in the end because we're using his time off for Italy. Anyway, my cousin and my aunt (who live together - even though Cousin is 27) came down for dinner too. Don't get me wrong, it was great to see them. But they do have a few quirks that I find hard to stomach.

For instance, they firmly believe they are poor. And overtaxed. (these people have gone on 4 vacations this past year, once to Hawaii and 3 times to the Oregon coast, and they do NOT vacation cheaply; they've also renovated their home in multiple ways over the past several years; etc., etc. they are not, by any stretch, poor)

Well, as we were playing cards my cousin was lamenting over her finances and the fact that the government takes so much of her income. "it would be better to just be poor" Those were her words. I couldn't take it any longer. I was 98% sure that she made more than Mr. Man and I combined, and here she was lamenting her wealth because she has to pay taxes (like we ALL do, except, I suppose, the truly poor). So, I spilled my guts. I'm not good at confrontation, but I'm getting better. So to her "it would be better to just be poor" I responded, maybe...but then you might lose your house. LIKE I AM. The thing was like it didn't register. So I went further - I asked her how much she makes. $50k per year, but the government takes $12k of that. Uh huh. So - honey, YOUR NET income is about $2k shy of my GROSS, combined, income with my husband. And let's get more detailed. She pays $300/month for her share of the mortgage on the house she shares with her mother. And they split the bills.

I'm sorry - how is it that you're poor? I don't care if I offend anyone reading this - if you make $50k per year and only have to pay $300 per month for your living expense, be it mortgage or rent, you ARE NOT, at all, poor. Okay? If you think you are, then just stop. Just look at what you spend your money on, and realize that some people don't know how they'll buy their next meal. And we're not talking a meal at Olive Garden...I mean potatoes. Or rice. You know, real poor people food.

The thing is - I don't think I'm that poor, really. Sure, I'm broke. And we have definitely cut back on niceties to try to make things work. But we're not poor. We have lived in a beautiful house for 2.5 years. We drive 2, very nice, one brand-new and one almost new cars. We CAN afford to eat fruits and veggies, even if we can't really afford to eat out. We CAN afford new clothes once in awhile, and we ARE going to Italy, for crying out loud! Oi. So, just know, that I know, despite our situation, I'm still very lucky and even though my bills currently outweigh my income, I'm not truly poor. And that's what I'm thankful for. As dire as our situation may look on paper, we're still living a very nice life. We're still together. And we're not selfish, careless, or foolish enough to believe that we are poor.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sick to Our Stomachs

It's like the past 6 months we've been running around with our eyes closed shouting I can't see you! I can't see you! And if I can't see're not there.

Wednesday, someone opened our eyes.

We met with a HUD approved mortgage counselor on Wednesday. I found them on the HUD website for AZ and contacted them, maybe 6 weeks ago. I was hoping to get help getting a loan modification. I'm pretty sure I've stated this before - but since Mr. Man lost his job and took the new one at less than half his old income - we can't afford our bills. We're in the hole roughly $700 every month. How have we been surviving? By taking out student loans, and closing our eyes to the insanity.

So, shortly after contacting the HUD agency and filling out their initial paperwork, I got word from my bank that they were (finally!) starting us down the path for a Making Home Affordable Modification. This is a fun story...(but this post is already too long, so I'll sum it up - basically, the bank keeps dicking with me. Yay!) The major points are these:

Starting from when I lost MY job in September 2008 I've been contacting our lender to see if we can get some sort of refinance or something (I had no idea about loan modification yet). At the time, there was nothing. I quickly found other employment and then went back to school in January of 2009. While not ideal financially, it put us back to roughly where we were when we first purchased the home. I make about $2k less per year than I did, but $2k per year is a very manageable deficit, so we were fine. And I stopped worrying over a refinance or modification.

Then, in May Mr. Man lost his job. So starting May 2009 I've been calling our lender at least once a week trying to get some work out. By then, I'd heard of Making Home Affordable and had been on the website and determined we were eligible! Great! Well, the Bank kept saying that they didn't know anything about the program. And because we continued to pay our mortgage, because that's what you're supposed to do, they really had no options for us.

Which brought us to August 2009, where I took out a LOT of student loans and Mr. Man got his new job. Our new combined income is less than his old income was. We're now making about 2/3's combined what we had when we purchased the house. And, are in the hole each month. So what do we do?

Normally, I'd sell the house. But the house is worth about $95k and we owe $182. Can't really sell when can't break even.

In September/October we decided, we'll just take out the loans and make it work until I graduate. I mean, at least we have that option, so we should take it. I'm pretty sure I wrote a post stating that. By doing that, we keep our credit in tact, our pride unharmed, and our heads held high.

Which brings us to November 2009. When we met with the HUD counselor. Who pointed out that our plan of taking out what will ultimately be about $80k in loans by the time I graduate, to stay in a house that we owe $182k on, that is only worth $95k, is not a financially sound plan. Further, we will need to move in 3-4 years for me to get a job upon graduation. Not, I will want to we will have to if I want to be a professor and to use my PhD (I do). This complicates things because he said that, conservatively, we're looking at 15 years in the house before the value goes back to what we owe. Just to break even. But that's the $182k. Not counting the additional $80k. I feel like most people say houses are always a good idea because they always have equity. NO THEY DO NOT!

So, what do we do? Do we "transition" now? Which means attempting a short sale. That's risky, because if we can't find a buyer or the bank doesn't agree to it, then our next option is a deed-in-lieu, and if they won't accept that, then we've backed ourselves into a corner and have to foreclose. We both have excellent credit. Are we willing to accept foreclosure?

If we choose to continue to attempt a modification - hoping that this HUD agency will actually accomplish it since I've been unable to on my own for over a year - then we have to hope and pray that something happens so that in four years we can actually sell the house. I mean, if it's not worth what we owe in four years, we'll be in the exact same situation of looking at a short sale. But without the government legislation that is around right now to help people in our shoes.

Truthfully, I want a short sell. It's the least harmful to our credit, we can feel "good" about ourselves trying to do the best thing for ourselves and not just "walking away". But, if we attempt it, it's not guaranteed. It's up to the bank.

And then after making up my mind on that I look at friends and family. I know everyone's lives seem perfect from the outside...but some of our friends and family really have great things going on. I'm happy for them, but then feel jealous and sad for me. Lame, I know. They're settled in their careers and making their houses into homes that they will live in for a long time. We're not in that position, but I kind of want to be. The truth is, we should never have bought the house in the first place. But when we bought it, we as people were very different. And the direction we had planned for our lives was very different. Shit happens. Plans change. So what do we do now?

I don't know what we'll do yet. Mr. Man is really stressed out by all of this. I think he's taking it harder than I am. Probably because this is coming at the same time that he's feeling dissatisfied with his new job and feeling like he needs a "career". But he's not sure what career interests him. He doesn't feel a passion for anything but police work - and the departments are not hiring right now. So what do we do?

I might add - that we feel 100% ridiculous that we bought a new car in September, and we're going to Rome in December. And then talking about possibly foreclosing. The fact of the matter is neither of those purchases (foolish as they may or may not be) are why we're considering a foreclosure. It is not that we made these purchases and now find ourselves without recourse. It's that we realized we may be sinking ourselves for the rest of our lives for a house. When instead, we could transition now, take advantage of the legislation set up to help us, and repair our credit over the next 3-4 years, so that when we do move for my job, and want to buy again, we'll be able to. Instead of delaying what seems inevitable, taking out a butt-load of more debt, and winding up in the exact same situation, but worse off, because the legislation won't be there, and we'll have to wait 3-4 years from THAT time, which will delay us from when we'd want to purchase. It seems like the best financial plan is to "transition" now. It's just crappy that everyone (friends & family) will probably assume it's because we're idiots and went to Rome. Even if we hadn't had that trip, we'd be in the exact same position right now.

So what do we do?

It sounds to me like we attempt the short sale and hope it works. And accept the possibility we may foreclose. And hope that that's the right decision...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Trial by Jury

The general sense of apathy and entitlement present in today's young society is, quite frankly, appalling. I say young society because that is the part of society I am most familiar with. And truthfully, I hope that some of our society might not be as degenerate.

What's prompting this rant? A status on Facebook. Yup, I'm on Facebook. And one of my FB "friends" posted a status that said, and I do quote: "NO!!!!!!!!!!! i have jury duty tomorrow! :( "

Several other "friends" commented on this status to the effect of "that sucks" "hahahaha" and then the original poster replied "it's not fair"


No, I mean SERIOUSLY???

Do you want to have the right to a trial by jury if, God forbid, you should need it? Do you want your family and loved ones to have that right?

Then SUCK. IT. UP.

Do your duty. And do it honorably. And stop whining.

Monday, November 2, 2009

That'll be a No.

The hospital said No. We must pay the whole bill. Good-bye savings! It was so fun having you! Ironic really - if we'd spent it on fun stuff we'd have not had it and then maybe the hospital would have said yes and helped pay the bill. But because we were being responsible and had the savings, we got to spend it on the hospital bill instead. See why we're going to Rome on student loans? It's the way to do it apparently.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


I should have known it was too good to be true. It feels like I should have realized that good things just aren't for us. Happiness, seizing the moment is not our path. Sigh.

It may still be, but things keep coming up that may cancel the trip. And those tickets we bought at such an amazing price? Non-refundable. Yeah.

So, Mr. Man got a jury summons for a grand jury, that starts a month before the trip. Mmhmm. Those usually take a LONG time from the information I can find out. He's going to call on Monday to see what will happen with that. First of all, we can't afford for him to lose a month or more of his income, and second...we have tickets to Rome!!

Then, today I hear word that British Airways (the airline we're flying) may be striking at Christmas...thus canceling, delaying and otherwise messing up flights. Sigh. I'm seriously hoping if they do that they do it AT christmas. As in, after we get back.

I realize there are bigger issues in the world that should upset me. And I understand the BA workers need fair contracts etc. But, seriously? I had been so excited and now I mostly feel stressed. It would have been nice if the excitement could have lasted at least a week. One week. That was too much to ask?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Despite appearances, we really are broke

Now, I've heard this a lot, even from members in my own extended family. And I think it's common. We all think we're lower middle-class...even if some of us really are much higher in that rather broad category than others. Whatever.

In our case though, it's true! More or less...I mean, if you take our monthly income and then subtract our bills, and then subtract our food and misc. expenses (which we've really tried to cut back on) you end up with a negative number. Like, $737 negative. That's a lot. And so we've taken out loans. Student loans, which is nice, but a LOT in loans. And we're making ends meet with that. And managing to buy a new car. And go to Rome.

Yup. Amazing isn't it? Rome, Italy for 3 full days right before Christmas of this year. We've already bought our plane tickets. And, for the most part, I'm just really excited. Mr. Man remarked at one point that it really took him getting fired for us to do this, and was noting the irony. When he had the old job we actually would have had enough money to swing such a DREAM of a vacation. But we never would have and did not while he was employed there. Why? 2 reasons, really. 1. it was impossible for him to get the time off. and 2. we were so worried about being responsible and doing the right thing and planning for our future and honestly, between socking money away for retirement, babies, rainy days, etc. you have very little left that is expendable. I say that as if we had socked money away for those things, when in fact we did not. We did sock some away...but not much, and not enough to cover any of those 3 categories.

So, what's different now that we're broke? I think we realized that there has to be balance. Yeah, you should be responsible (considering we're still paying our bills, I think we are) and debt sucks. Duh. But at the same time, what's the point of always saving, and never taking that dream trip...if all you have to show at the end is a lot of money in your bank account? Sure, that equals security and I do want to feel secure. But I also don't want to miss out on living. I've said it many times while in school, I'm tired of waiting for my life to begin. Well, at some point in the last year, we realized that's just a mindset. We're living our lives every day. So stop waiting, and start living.

And, we're realizing that even though we've done everything more or less right, we're still getting screwed by things beyond our control (the economy). I mean, we did all the research, we got a vanilla 30-yr fixed loan with a large and dependable bank...and now we're stuck in a house that is worth literally half what we owe on it with very few options. How is any of that our fault? It's not. That's the thing. It's not our fault, but it is our lot and we're stuck with it. So, even though you can do everything right, you can still get screwed over. Therefore...we're less concerned with doing everything right and more concerned with seizing opportunities and living life as it comes. Being responsible too, but really living for the present and enjoying what we do have.

And so we're going to Rome. It will be funded entirely by student loans (I just accepted an extra loan for spring that should cover the trip). And really, I feel good about it. I feel like it's the "right" thing and the "right" choice, amazingly enough. And...we always said we wanted to travel to Europe before having kids. Now we can. I think that may end up being important for our future happiness, so I'm glad we got the opportunity and seized it.

Besides, I feel it should be noted that we got an amazing deal. We're both flying round trip for less than a normal single round trip fair. Can't really beat that! It's like buy one get one free! We'll have 3 full days in Rome and part of a day in London (due to a LOOOONG lay-over). I think it's going to be Awesome.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Really? Do I look Fat to you?

We went to the state fair yesterday. It was tons of fun...and really bad for our digestion. We've taken to spending most our money on the food. In fact, we made sure to go for a full day today, so we could eat everything we wanted. Last year we just couldn't manage it. This year...we didn't make it either. We just couldn't stomach that funnel cake at the end of the day. We'd had enough. It was a good day.

But in the midst of our smorgasbord we were inside looking at exhibits/shops/not-really-sure-booths and found a place selling the most delicious cinnamon rolls! So we got one...with the cream cheese frosting on top. Yes we did. And not 3 booths down we found a place that was doing free cholesterol and blood pressure screening. Mr. Man decided he needed to do it. As I'm standing mid-bite with that lovely cinnamon roll in hand.

Sighing, I put the fork down, and say I'm game too. They start out by asking you to fill out your standard release form and then ask your height and weight. They then read your BMI off a chart and put it on your form. The lovely "intake nurse" who filled out my form heard 5' instead of 5'4" when I told her how tall I was. She got my weight right (didn't think I'd publish that did you?) but the result of the 4 inch discrepancy was that my BMI was recorded as 24. I believe 25 and over is considered overweight. I noticed the error, but at this point was waiting to move to station #2 - the finger jab.

It didn't hurt as bad as I remember my last finger jab, so that was nice. They took 2 drops of blood - one for a cholesterol screen and one for glucose. Hah! I was convinced mine would look terrible considering the few bites I had already smuggled of that delightful cinnamon roll. (in fact it was measured normal...and even lower than Mr. Man's!)

After getting your finger poked you moved to Station #3 where a lady debriefed you on your numbers. Upon determining that Mr. Man and I were, in fact, together, they debriefed us together. She started on me, with my BMI of 24. She informed me in disapproving tones that I could not stand to gain another pound, and in fact, the difference between me and *overweight* was a mere 10 pounds. At this point I interrupted her to point out that the BMI recorded was incorrect, and in fact my real BMI was 21. the time I found it a little amusing, but something rankled.

As we walked away and I tucked into that cinnamon roll I realized what it was. Really, lady? Do I look as if I'm nearly overweight? Answer carefully here. I'd like to believe she just looked at the paper and went into her spiel and having done it countless times already wasn't really thinking about it. But she looked me right in the face as she delivered her lecture. And she seemed quite sincere and concerned...not at all canned. Now, may I point out, that my actual weight is 120 pounds (yup, I said it...but I figure this is an anonymous blog, I'll go for it. It helps illustrate my point). In order to have the BMI she thought I had, I'd need to put on a good 20 pounds to weigh 140 pounds. I don't know how much YOU study body types - but there's a difference between a woman who is 5'4" and 140 pounds, and one who is 120 pounds. There's no dancing around that fact. And quite frankly...I'm offended that she thought I was a good 20 pounds heavier than I actually am.

So I made sure to finish that cinnamon roll...and the ice cream cone...and the Navajo taco...and the curly fries...and the deep fried smore (so not worth it)...and the multiple pink lemonades...but I guess that's all we got through. It seemed like so much more at the time...

Though for the record, Mr. Man and I split each of the above. :)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Proving Good Neighbors Still Exist - By Being One

I hope it catches on. :)

So, I've heard the complaint many a time, including from my own lips. Someone moves to a new neighborhood and days, weeks, months pass by with seeming no notice from their neighbors. This happened to us. We were one of the last to move in on our street (it's a newly built neighborhood) and no one came to introduce themselves. No one came by to welcome us. Of course, we never went to their houses to introduce ourselves either. I think in our first year I'd waved at our next door neighbor maybe twice. We just kept different hours or something. Plus we both park in our garage, which makes it a little harder to meet each other.

Finally, after living here for two years, I happened to come home and see her and her daughters in their driveway. So, I parked my car...and then got out and introduced myself. It was nice. She seemed nice. We talked about the chore of maintaining our front yards. She mentioned that all she has are little hand shears - the kind you might use for a small indoor plant. I told her I'd send the boys (Mr. Man and 2 of his friends) her way next time they trimmed our trees.

That was several months ago. The boys have yet to return to trim our trees. However, I have gone out and done the deed. Today I started out trimming my favorite plant in our yard - a bird of paradise. It's beautiful. It's like a really large bush that gets beautiful orange, red and yellow flowers in the summer. And the hotter it gets the happier it is. It's perfect for the desert. And it's thriving overgrowth is a testament to that. I won't let Mr. Man trim it - I love it so much. I insist that I get to be the one to shape the beautiful beast of a bush. It's nearly as tall as our neighbor's tree it grows right next to. :) But it was starting to grow over the driveway as well, and the flowers are starting to fade so it was time.

So I trimmed the Bird of Paradise. And then noticed that our neighbor's tree was out of control. These two plants grow between our driveways, and the tree was starting to look more like a bush. And the branches hanging down not only blocked our view while backing out, but were starting to limit the sunlight my beloved Bird of Paradise was getting. So I decided to just go ahead and trim it up for her. So, not a totally self-less act, clearly, but one I hope she appreciates. A small part of me worries I should have asked first...but I really didn't do too much. Just pruned away all the branches I could reach at the bottom.

Anyway, I think it was the neighborly thing to do.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I was reading over old posts and realized I needed to update a few things to bring this blog current. First, we heard from the police department. They canceled their test and are rescheduling it for next year. Basically they said they didn't anticipate any openings for the rest of the year. Which boils down to the crappy economy. We need TH to get this job because of the crappy economy, but it looks like he won't get it until the economy uncrappifies. Bummer. It's a blow to be sure - this is his DREAM job. But at least it wasn't a solid No. There's still a chance. So, we'll take it. Meanwhile, BBBB loves his current job, and that's a definite plus.

Additionally, we've decided to keep our current course. We'll keep taking out student loans and paying our bills. Our bank definitely says they're processing us for the modification, so hopefully that will pan out. If it does it'll save us $6,000 per year. Instead of -$700 per month, we'd be at -$200. How great would that be! We'd only need $2,400 in student loans to break even. A far cry better than what we need now. So we're still definitely hoping this works out for us.

And, like the last post said, we're going for it and letting nature take its course as far as pregnancy is concerned. Basically, after all my whining and complaining, I realized that I should be grateful I at least have the option to take out student loans. No, it's not ideal...but we could be a lot worse off.

We're still trying to get BBBB's medical bill sorted out. The hospital wants more paperwork. Since we technically have the amount in our savings we're nervous they'll want us to pay the full amount...I can't say I'd be surprised, but it is frustrating. I mean, when you look at our debt to income ratio we should not have any savings, and really all we have is from before TH lost his job. Taking a big chunk of that to pay medical bills with our current situation would mean we're out the money for a long time. And if for some reason I can't get student loans next year we're royally screwed as we'll have no safety net. I guess all we can do is ask...

Monday, October 19, 2009

We're Going For It

So, I am finally ready to say, let's do it. Let's "try" for a baby. I've waffled on this for about a year now. I kept going back and forth. Meanwhile, for about 6 months now BBBB has been solidly "ready". So it's just been me holding up the show. :) Sounds about typical.

Basically, I've gone back and forth on a few things.

One is finances...we're so not really financially in a good place. We have some savings, but they're piddly. And we're taking out student loans to make ends meet. If everything stays the same until I graduate (2012 or 2013) then there's going to be a LOT of student loan debt at the end of this. Of course, a brief look over this blog will show you that the odds of things staying the same for 3 to 4 years are not very good. And I've been told more than once that if you're waiting until you have "enough" money, you'll be waiting forever. I believe them. Of course you should have some financial stability...and we kind of do.

Then there's the issue of age. I know full well that fertility peaks in your 20's and starts dwindling in your 30's. So...the longer we wait, theoretically, the worse our odds of conceiving a healthy baby. Additionally, we both want to be "young" enough to horse around with our kids when they're 10. BBBB's dad was 34 when he was born (he's the youngest) and that was old enough that he wasn't quite able to horse around. And he's in fairly decent shape. But he was in his mid-forties when BBBB was 10...
PLUS there's the additional knowledge that my own mother was 26 when she had me (I was her first) and that the average age today in the U.S. for first time mothers is 25! I'm behind the curve here! That being said, I feel a lot more patient, mature and ready at 26 than I was at 21, or even 25. So, while you don't want to be "too old" how old is old enough? Sometimes I still feel so young.

Of course there's also the factor of career. Some might scoff at my notion that my graduate education is my career, but as I want to be a professor it really is. This is my launching point. The research I do now will really help me land my future job. What I do now does influence my career, so I need to be sure I can have a baby and be able to manage the demands on my time between my career and a baby. Just like anyone else. The good news is, I should be done with classwork by next May - so while anytime this last year would have been difficult for having a baby, at this point I'm more or less in the clear. A plus for having a baby now is the argument that I'll be better able to balance a baby and my career when I'm in grad school and can have a rather flexible schedule and do a lot of work at home. This will not be the case when I start a new job, especially if I go tenure-track.

Another consideration, to be perfectly honest, is that I am SLOOOOW in the morning. And I don't do well on no sleep. How on earth will I manage with a new baby?

And then finally there's the "list". We don't really have a list, but we have talked multiple times about the things we want to accomplish before procreating. On this list are a lot of travel locations. With the overarching entry - AT LEAST go to Europe. We have not. With our current financial position, it is not likely we will go in the near future. While that's not a make-or-break, I can't help but think that if we can't go now, we'll certainly not be going with a new baby. I hear they're expensive. :)

So those were the major points in my waffling. Back and forth, back forth I'd weight the pros and cons of each issue. And some days I'd lean toward going for it. Other days I'd think I was crazy for ever considering it. Quite often I convince myself that I'm still quite YOUNG in reality. What's the rush?

So what happened? Did I have an epiphany? Maybe. But there was no "ah hah" moment. In fact, I don't even know when the decisiveness set in. Sometime in the last month. I just finally decided that now is the right time. And I feel peace with the decision, having made it. Which is always reassuring. And I feel excited!

That being said we're not planning to "time" things and go nuts trying to get preggo ASAP. Our decision to "go for it" means that we'll stop preventing and see where that gets us. Statistics say that should get us pregnant within a year 85% of the time. And that works for me. I do hope I'm pregnant by this time next year...truth be told, I'd even like a Fall Baby. So we'll see how it goes. Should be a fun and interesting ride.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I got it. Yup. Swine Flu. It was awful...fever for four days until I finally went to doctor (yup, you should do what they say and go sooner). They gave me Tamiflu and it worked - I started feeling better the next day. Still have a cough and some loss of lung function (ie, I lose my breath pretty easy still) but I'm finally back to school.

Friday, October 2, 2009

For my reference, and anyone else who finds it useful

8 Ways to Ease Your Worries

courtesy of

1. Accept that troubles are part of life. With all the focus on celebrity lifestyles during the past decade or so, “it’s almost as if we’ve been told life is supposed to be perfect all the time, and something is wrong with us if it isn’t,” says Victoria Moran, author of Living a Charmed Life. “That’s not true!”

Sometimes you just happen to be the person whose car runs over a nail in the road, and you end up with a flat tire. You didn’t do anything to deserve it. Being careful won’t eliminate every last chance of picking up a nail. Neither will being nice and working hard on your driving skills.

In the same way, you aren’t any more unlucky than anyone else if the economic slowdown is creating new difficulties for you. The answer to “Why me?” is “Why not me?” When you keep reminding yourself that life has its ups and downs, you’re better able to “change your default setting,” as Moran puts it. “All of a sudden, ‘Everyone’s healthy, and we’re safe and content, even now,’ becomes as good as ‘Rich and getting richer,’” she says.

2. Don’t obsess over the news. Molly Peter, a real estate agent and mother of four in Bethesda, Maryland, never watches the news anymore. “It’s surprising how much more positive I feel every day,” she says. Instead, she listens to music or an audiobook while in the car or cooking.

This technique is OK to use as long as you’re not in denial about the upheavals going on, says Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, a University of California, Riverside, professor of psychology and author of The How of Happiness. Of course you want to stay informed—just don’t let it overwhelm you. “Your life will be happier if you focus on affirming things,” rather than things that depress you, says Dr. Lyubomirsky.

3. Reach out to friends. The way you cut fear down to size, says Rev. Dr. Forrest Church, author of 25 books including Freedom from Fear, is to avoid the urge to isolate yourself when trouble hits. It’s crucial to be with people, and by “people,” he means more than your immediate family and the dog.

But that’s not what most of us tend to do. When we get laid off, we feel singled out and helpless. We may be furious, bitter or sad. Most certainly, we feel embarrassed. So we hunker down and hide.

“You can’t let yourself do that,” Dr. Church says. “When you do, you get into a conversation with your fear, and it builds.” You may even start blaming yourself. “One neighbor at a time, one friend at a time, break out of your isolation every day,” he says. “When we start engaging with other people, we find ways around that wall that’s in front of us, solutions and ideas we might not have seen by ourselves.”

4. Cultivate gratitude, now more than ever. You may be eating more rice and beans these days, but if there’s food on the table, that’s a blessing. You can be grateful that your son is learning to read, for your health, for the neighbor who waved as she mowed her lawn.

In a 2002 study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, researcher and psychology professor Martin Seligman, PhD, asked severely depressed people to go to a website once a day, before they went to bed, and write down three good things that had happened that day and why. (These were people who were so depressed that just getting out of bed might be worthy of the list.) Listing three good things daily was their only treatment. Within 15 days, 94% felt less depressed.

The study has been repeated several times since. Every time, researchers found that being thankful actually made the subjects feel happier.

“Saying thank you is powerful,” says Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, who recently became the first woman to become executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, representing Conservative Jewish rabbis worldwide. “It turns us from a mindset of lack to a mindset of gratitude for the good things in our lives.”

5. Decide not to worry. Studies have found that some people worry 10 times more than other people do, although their life circumstances may not be much different from those of people who hardly worry at all. Not surprisingly, the champion worriers were more likely to report being unhappy than those who worried less. Some people are predisposed to worry more than others, says Boston College psychologist Maya Tamir, PhD, but we do have some control over it, meaning we can choose whether to worry or not. Deciding not to worry is not the same as pretending everything is fine. By all means, be practical. But once you’ve made a plan for “what if I get laid off,” don’t continue to fret about it in your head or talk about it to others, advises Dr. Lyubomirsky.

6. This goes for dwelling, too. Dwelling, or replaying a stressful event over and over in your head, can keep you stuck. Dr. Lyubomirsky has documented the negative effects of dwelling. Psychologists call this rumination, and there are tricks to stopping it, she says. One is to see whether you have any worry triggers and to distract yourself when you begin to ruminate.

Try different tactics until you can turn off worry the way you change a TV channel. Solitary exercise may not help unless you work out so hard you don’t think about other things. “I used to go for a run when I found myself ruminating,” reports Dr. Lyubomirsky. “Well, running made me do it more!” Good bets: reading to a child or watching a funny movie.

Another trick she finds effective: Make a worry appointment with yourself. Plan to worry from 9 to 9:30 a.m., for example, and if you find you’re worrying at any other time during the day, tell yourself to put it on hold. Silly, maybe—but it works, Dr. Lyubomirsky says.

7. Work at staying upbeat. In her latest book, Dr. Lyubomirsky makes an interesting point: A growing body of research shows that our sense of well-being is about 50% dependent on a happiness setpoint. This factor is genetic, much like a weight setpoint. Of the rest, only about 10% is circumstantial: big income or small, married or single, gorgeous or plain. “What’s exciting is that the other 40% percent is under our control,” she says. “It depends on our daily, intentional activities.” Even something as simple as smiling can lift your spirits. “Staying positive is really important, right down to the effect it has on your immune system,” Dr. Lyubomirsky says.

8. Take part in your faith. Worship offers transformative power of its own because it “takes us out of ourselves,” says Rabbi Schonfeld. A faith community can feel like a supportive extended family. Going to the church or synagogue during the week to meet friends or volunteer our time can be a mission when we have no job to go to daily or we don’t know what to do next. And there are a lot of opportunities to help with service and outreach projects.

“Miraculous things can happen when we join hands to help one another,” says Rabbi Schonfeld. “It isn’t just the good works, though they are important. Working together also relieves our fear and anxiety, and gives us a new surge of energy.” Another benefit: We can’t shelter our children, especially our older children, from the troubles related to the present economy. “But we can let them see us acting with a sense of faith and purpose,” which shows them that we’re able to cope, says Rabbi Schonfeld.

Maybe you just flat-out know you need help. If you haven’t been involved with a church before, turning up when you need groceries or you just got a pink slip can feel embarrassing, even hypocritical. Do it anyway, suggests Rev. Jefferts Schori. “Many times we change our lives for the good, or begin a spiritual journey, when we’re feeling the most down and vulnerable,” she says.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Finally, some good news

Aneurysm: weakening in the wall of a blood vessel causing it to "bulge" out

Brief History to get you up to date:

2002 - MRI to try to determine cause of fainting spells. Result - fainting still up in the air, but there's a potential aneurysm. If it is it's really small.

Feb 2009 - see a neurologist for headaches; she suggests a CT scan to determine for sure if it is an aneurysm or not at the same time - it's good to check up on these things and make sure they haven't grown as well, if it is an aneurysm

Feb 2009 - get results, yes, it's an aneurysm. In my brain (to be clear). She wants to follow up in May to see how the headaches are.

May 2009 - follow up appt: she says, yup, it's an aneurysm, but I refer those all to a neurosurgeon.

May 2009 - lose insurance

August 2009 - get insurance through school

Sept 29, 2009 - finally see neurosurgeon! Here's how it went:

First off, I left a little bit early from school in case the lightrail was late. It was. Now, I had looked on a map and was pretty sure the lightrail didn't go close enough to where I was going, so I had parked in the park and ride and ridden the lightrail to school. The plan was to ride back to my car and drive to the appointment. No problem. Well, with the lightrail 10 minute delay (as in I waited 20 min for a train, and they're supposed to come every 10) I was going to be cutting it close. I had no problem with the drive but was frustrated when I see, lo and behold, the lightrail line a mere block away from my appointment location. Whoever made the maps for Phoenix Metro should be fired (from map-making...I'd hate to suggest anyone lose their job in this economy). Because I could do a better job. In fact I may, for my future reference. Moving on.

So I got to the parking lot okay, but then I got lost. It was at a large hospital that had an infinite number of other buildings attached by sky bridges and what not. Well, I followed signs for neuro (makes sense, right?) but wound up in the wrong place. At this point I was stressing because my appointment had been for 1:30 and it was now 1:38. A kind nurse was trying to tell me where to go but it was darn confusing (due to construction you had to wind your way through various buildings) so another nurse was like, screw this, come with me honey! You're late! I'll help you! She was so great. So she led me around the building (and construction) and walked me halfway to the right building and then pointed out the doors to get me the rest of the way. (thanks Nurse!!)

So, I get to the right place at 1:45 and I'm freaking out. Turns out my appointment was for 2pm...they just tell you a half hour early so you're on time. The lady seemed smug and I'm sure she was thinking (for people like you) which is so frustrating because I'm usually 10-30 minutes early for things like this! Ah well.

So, finally they take me back and the first person to come in seems young. I know the neurosurgeon I'm seeing is from Germany and world famous - I figured he'd have a certain...air about him. And that he'd be a little older. Well this doctor introduces himself and turns out he's the Chief Resident. He assured me I'd still see the main guy, but he was going to ask some questions to help smooth things along. Fine with me.

So I told him about the aneurysm, answered some questions about family history and whatnot and then fired off my list of questions which mostly were about how having an aneurysm would affect pregnancy and child birth. Anyway, that was all good news! He said that they're very supportive of patients going ahead with pregnancy and childbirth and that they've not had any reason to believe one condition affects the other. (sigh of relief...) So then he went back to meet with the head boss.

A few minutes later an older gentlemen strides into the room with exactly the confidence, grace and air I expected of such a famous neurosurgeon. (quick aside: I heard this somewhere, but can't remember where: what's the difference between a neurosurgeon and a rocket scientist? Both being relatively intelligent professions, of course. The difference is margin of acceptable error...for a neurosurgeon, it's zero. Hmm...words for thought) Anyway, so he strolls in and introduces himself and then looks at me a little puzzled and says, well, if there is something there, it's too small for me to say if it is an aneurysm. And if it IS, in fact, an aneurysm, then it's so small that the risk from it is far less than any risk from trying to go in to fix it. (ie brain surgery) So his recommendation is to carry on with a healthy lifestyle, and then come back in a year for an MRA just to be sure that nothing has changed or grown (because I did have one splitting headache since the CT scan that sounded a lot like the kind you get when an aneurysm ruptures) but after that, just forget the anomaly is even there.

So, major sigh of relief. I didn't even realize how much this had been weighing on my mind until I walked out of the appointment. I felt inches taller from a weight being lifted! And I'm so thankful that there's probably nothing wrong in my head and I can go on living as if I'm normal. (hah!)

Friday, September 25, 2009

So, naturally, we bought a new car

In light of the previous post, that might seem crazy. Buying a new car I mean. Believe me, we think so too. We did not wake up yesterday intending to buy a new car. The thought never crossed our minds. BBBB had the day off and was taking in our 2000 Civic for it's 90,000 mile maintenance (it had around 92,300 on it).

This was going to be a $400 maintenance...we knew that going in. Thus why we hadn't done it yet. Turns out the car needed $500 in repairs to keep it functional, and more like a total of $800 in repairs to get it back into good shape...leaving us with a bill for the day of $1200. So I suggested TH march back to the dealer, ask them what we could get for the trade and if we could get the 2000 paid off (we still owed $2700 - we had purchased it used) and then get a new car for the same payment as the 2000 was ($245/month) then we'd take it. I was in and out of class all day, so he was mostly on his own.

He talked to the dealer, and looked at the Hyundai's next door for good measure. The short story is that we got a Blue (love it!) 2009 Civic for $300/month. Not quite as good as I'd been hoping, and initially I said nope. Not good enough. In the end we decided it was.

They gave us enough for the trade to pay off the balance owed. They didn't charge us for the maintenance or repairs (obviously). They threw in window tinting on the new car. And in the long-run, we think, *we hope*, it will have been the better financial choice.

It was definitely a weird day though. The whole experience was just stressful. The last time we bought a car, the last two times we bought a car, it had been exciting. And fun. And still a little stressful. This time was all stress. We really didn't know which was the better option. But as these weren't the first expensive repairs the car had incurred, and certainly wouldn't have been the last we thought we made the right choice. Plus we drive at least 60 miles roundtrip every day. That's a far enough distance we really do need a fuel-efficient and reliable vehicle. That's how we feel anyway.

So, we have a really nice, brand spanking new car. And we've firmly established ourselves as a Honda Civic Family. (we've now owned 3 separate Honda Civics together) I miss our little '00 - it was a stick and fun to drive, but "New Blue" is a pretty, pretty car. And I'm sure I'll learn to love it too.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Financial Woes and Related Stress

So much has been going through my head lately. So many things have been frustrating. So often I find myself feeling like a victim of circumstances beyond my control. I HATE that feeling. To make it worse, I know that I am personally responsible for how I feel. No one can MAKE me feel anything - I choose to respond to these situations in this way. While I may know that's the common pyscho-theory on the's not so easy to change how I feel.

Let's re-cap, shall we?

My husband was fired in May for an incident that occurred in April. This incident involved him getting stabbed IN THE NECK by a shoplifter. He was fired because he should not have been involved with the shoplifter in the first place. Granted. But one of his employees had run after them and started an altercation - in a moment of indecision he was hit over the shoulder with a large brandy bottle by one shoplifter while his employee grappled with the other (he was a manager, and thus responsible for this employee's safety). What would you have done? Walked away and called the cops from a safe distance? Stayed where you were when the employee ran off and watched from a safe distance? I hope not. What would you have wanted him to do if the employee in the altercation was one of YOUR loved ones? I hate that MY loved one got into such a dangerous situation, but I also hate that we've become bystanders. We'd rather watch people break the law and potentially hurt others than get involved and risk personal injury or lawsuit. When did we get so lazy? It was 2 shoplifters. If all of the employees worked together they'd be outnumbered! When did we start letting the infractious few run the show? I could go on, but this rant isn't the point here. So, TH was fired. Which left us...royally screwed financially.

Let's be clear, I am a Ph.D. student in Geography. I make money doing this; yes, that's right! They PAY me to go to school, pay for my tuition AND pay for my health insurance. Wild, I know. But, the pay isn't much. Certainly not enough to pay our bills, even with the pittance of unemployment benefits BBBB received after being fired. It would have been easy enough, then, to have just stopped paying the mortgage, and walked away from our house. We love our house - it's beautiful, but it's almost 50% underwater. Not so pretty there. Did we stop paying our mortage then? Nope, we did not. We cut back on everything. Raised the thermostat so it was ungodly hot during the day and just barely liveable at night. We started really planning our grocery trips and LIVING on leftovers. Eating out was allowed once a month, and then only some place cheap. We cut back, we made it work. And in August TH found a job!

He's now working that job - it's a bank teller position. He loves it. Which is fantastic, as he had hated the other job. The catch? This job pays literally half what he made before. Our current combined income is LESS than his salary at the old job was alone. We took out student loans to make up the difference this semester. I can't fathom doing that again. But for now, we're still current on all of our financial obligations. Yup, wild, I know.

Why would we do this? When the rest of the world seems to be giving up in even easier circumstances? Well, three reasons really. One is integrity. We took out the loan...we feel we should do anything in our power to keep up our end of the obligation. We don't feel we're ENTITLED to the house or even to taking out a loan. We got the loan based on good credit - we'd like to preserve that credit. Two - TH would like to be a police officer. Defaulting on a loan won't help that goal, especially right now when it's so competitive and cities mostly aren't hiring. And three - we really do love our house. It's terribly saddening to think of giving it up.

But here we are - taking out debt (student loans) to pay debt. It's insane. Meanwhile, we have been trying to get our bank to modify our loan. Normally, we'd try to sell the house in a situation where we could no longer afford it, but in this economy and being so far underwater, there's no way it'll happen.We qualify for one of the government programs, but the bank has been less than co-operative. Supposedly, as of yesterday, we are finally being "processed". We'll see where that gets us.

So, here's where we stand. TH has applied to be a police officer, and should find out this week if he's invited to test. If he is not, then we will most likely foreclose on the house. Even if we got the modification we'd still be strapped financially. And as TH put it - we'd be sinking all of our money into the house, which is still upside down, instead of ENJOYING life and LIVING AND saving for retirement (which we really need to start doing). It just doesn't make sense. If he IS invited to test...well, then there's a lot more waiting. We wait to see if he makes it through the testing process. And if he does? Well, he'll make a lot more money than we're making now. We could probably afford to keep the house. But should we? 45% updside down people. It's a tough call...we could do some really important things with the money we'd save by living somewhere else (ie save for retirement by living in an apartment).

I think it all comes down to what I want to do when I graduate - which should be spring of 2012 or 2013. Probably 2013. If I want to be a full fledge professor at a university, we'll need to be able to move then. Will our house have re-gained enough value for us to sell? Hard to say...but probably not. Not in 3-4 years. MAYBE, just maybe, we'd be able to break even...but then we're still out all the money with nothing to show for it. No money saved for retirement. Just our integrity and credit intact. No small things, for sure...but...I don't know. IF, instead, I'm okay with teaching at the community colleges so that TH can work with his police department for 5-10 years...well, then maybe we stay in the house. In 5 to 10 years it's a lot more likely the housing market will have recovered enough to *maybe* make it worth our while. At least in light of the fact we'd keep our credit score and integrity. Maybe. But I don't know if I'd be happy with teaching at the community colleges. It's fun...but will that stall my career permanently? Would I then find it impossible to work at a university, if in 5-10 years I wanted to do so?

Lots of questions for us to think about. But first, we need to know if TH will even be invited to test...

Meanwhile, as if all that wasn't enough to worry about, we've been dealing with our state government trying to get an application through for government health insurance for TH. While he was unemployed and uninsured (we couldn't afford COBRA, sorry...we were trying to pay the mortgage) he developed a BAD ear infection and went to the ER. The bill is $1200. That's after they reduced it some. And on top of the $145 we paid the Urgent Care for them to tell us - "we can't treat him, take him to the ER". Well, let's just say that if our dealings with this government entity are anything like what the proposed health reform will cause - we're all going to be royally screwed when it comes to health care. It's been a 3-ring circus dealing with these people!

The first document we got from them after our application was sent in had a mailing date printed ON THE LETTER of 8/6/09. In the letter it said we had to contact them by July 31, 2009 or be denied our claim. WTF? It's been like that ever since. We're requesting a fair hearing, but will probably just end up seeing what the hospital can do for us because it's gotten absolutely ridiculous and neither of us has the time to deal with these people.

Meanwhile, this was our original timeline for starting to "try" for a baby. Yeah...not exactly the most reasonable thing to try for now, is it? And feels so unfair and frustrating that we have to put that on hold for this other BS. What is more important than having kids? Well, obviously we want to have kids in a responsible way (or else we probably wouldn't have waited this long, right?) but seriously! We're not getting any younger...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fun Journey in My Imagination

This was such fun while it lasted I wanted to write it down before I forgot.

On Sunday TH and I attended church. We rather like our church and after the service they have coffee, juice, fruit and pastries in the gym for everyone's consumption. As we were enjoying our morning goodies I looked up to the high, high ceiling and saw an air duct with a colorful appendage sticking out of it. It was rainbow striped and shaped like a long, narrow isoceles triangle. I'm not sure what put the image in my head, but once it was there I couldn't shake it. So I shared my happy revelry with BBBB.

"Look, up there! A dragon done hid in the ceiling there, but forgot to tuck in his tail!" And with that sentence it suddenly became real and only grew from there. The air system was humming - or was that the dragon purring? as he happily hung out in the rafters, unaware his presence had been observed. It was all going along swimmingly until TH confessed he'd never seen a dragon and wasn't at all convinced they purred or were cat-like in any other way.

Oh was nice while it lasted. :)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sex and Virginity

Did the title get your attention? My guess is it did. Sex sells. It pulls us in, even if we don't want to admit it. Recently, as in yesterday, TH and I had a rousing discussion about sex and virginity. With TH's new job at a bank we carpool in and out of town, which gives us some time for such discussions. This particular one started because TH had gotten his haircut before picking me up to go home (he'd gotten done earlier than I had and found the time) and while at the barber Tyra's talk show came on the TV. The topic of the show: Virginity.

There's a lot of importance placed on virginity, but I no longer agree that it deserves such importance. What is our obsession with it - our, meaning Americans? It seems that if you're an American male over a certain age, to still possess one's "virginity" is an embarrassment. But at the same time, for an American female to "lose" hers before marriage is still something of an abomination.


(I'm speaking specifically about American's because that is my experience, and I have some vague idea that this topic is addressed differently in other parts of the wolrd)

What is it that changes in a male when he has sex for the first time? Is he more manly? Does the process of intercourse actually physically change him in some way? Not that I'm aware of. Emotionally it might - but is that only because we've placed such emphasis on it? And for the females - sure, you could argue there's a physical change, supposing she still had an intact hymen at the time of her first sexual encounter. But I've read that only 1/3 of females will still be in such a physical condition - for most the hymen either dissolves or is otherwise "broken" through normal physical activity. So, for those 2/3's that find themselves in that situation, what physical change does the act of intercourse involve?

I've given a lot of thought over the years to this subject. I used to be one of the girls that was going to "save herself for marriage" and held Virginity in the highest esteem. It was critically important to me that both myself AND my future husband WAIT for marriage to experience this mysterious act called sex. This conviction was based on a lot of naive notions. For instance, at the time, I still thought that sex would be a magical, earth-shattering, orchestra-in-the-background, life-altering activity. I'm not saying I haven't had magical moments or heard an orchestra playing in my sexual encounters since - it's been great - but that first time...was not quite like that. It was enjoyable sure, but it was our first time. There's a bit of mechanics involved and when you get down to it sex is just messy and kind of weird. I didn't expect the mess - that definitely wasn't part of the magic I'd imagined. (see, naive, right?) I also expected to feel different afterwards. I didn't especially. I felt closer to my boyfriend, but not especially different in any way.

So did I save myself for marriage? No, I did not. And I am glad I did not. I think that doing so puts way more importance on the act than it deserves. And more pressure on the individuals in that relationship, which can cause other problems. That being said, I do still feel it's important to be in a committed relationship with someone you trust (there are way too many infectious diseases out there to drop your pants for just anyone) and for both partners to be "ready". By "ready" I mean emotionally prepared and not feeling pressured or trying to make someone love them, or not leave them.

So back to Virginity. I have since come to the conclusion that virginity in males is a foolish idea. They're still MEN even if they haven't had sex. And a 12 year old boy having sex certainly doesn't make him a MAN. For women, however; the idea of virginity can still make sense. Just not in the way most Americans view it. It is my opinion that every woman remains a virgin until her body is altered by the process of pregnancy and childbirth. Up until then, she's for all practical purposes, the same as before her first sexual encounter. Pregnancy and childbirth, however, enact real physical change and therefore, it is these physical processes that, in my opinion, truly mark the end of a woman's "virginity".

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Do you need a reason?

Once upon a time BBBB asked me why I wanted to have children. It seemed like a simple enough question, but it surprised me by being difficult to answer. He was having a hard time finding a reason as well - he just felt he wanted to.

There are many reasons we're told are wrong reasons - to fix a marriage, because you're bored, etc. But what are the right reasons, really? I've toyed with the question off and on...asked several people I know, my mother included. Her answer was one I share - because they're fun. That's not to say they aren't a LOT of work. But babies and children can be fun. I had a new thought tonight as I pondered the question again.

Currently, my reasons for wanting to have a child or two (possibly 3) are this:
1. They really do seem fun. Holidays especially, are more fun with children around.
2. To make a direct and personal contribution to the future. (this was the new thought). Think about it - when you raise a kid, really raise them, you impart values and ideals. You help shape that person who will one day be a fuctioning member of society (one hopes). And as such a member, they will shape the future - and their own children, continuing the process. What more direct or personal way can we shape the future than by raising children?
3. I'm curious. This may not be the best reason, but it is true. I'm curious about the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. I am curious what our children would look like; be like. I wonder who they are and want to meet them.
4. I think there's a biological pull as well. Some instinctive force that melts my heart when I see a baby and reminds me that I'm getting older. :)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Today I am sad

For a lot of different reasons really. But - especially because of financial reasons at the moment. We're still making it so far, that's not the issue. I was reading an article in the news about foreclosed homeowners (is that an oxymoron?) suing lenders for foreclosing on their homes. The comments at the end are what got me. Most of the people commenting seemed to be sick of the "lazy" people sitting on their fat-@$$es and getting bailed out. They suggest that people facing foreclosure are greedy and idiots and getting what they deserve - and if they really want to keep their house than they should just work harder. And if they're not willing to do that, then they shouldn't have bought a house they couldn't afford anyway.

Fine. I'm sure some of the millions facing foreclosure did bite off more than they could chew or chose to spend their money frivolously and now are unsure how to make ends meet.

But what about people like us? Yeah...we probably bought a bit more house than we should have. But we thought TH was going to get a higher paying job. And we thought I'd be done with school in a year, and then our income would double. We banked on an economy that tanked right as we needed it. True - we counted our chickens before they hatched, but despite that, we were making it work. TH didn't get the higher paying job - I got a job and then was fired the same day the economy tanked. And now I'm back in school - but all the while we were careful and made our mortgage on time. This past May TH was FIRED. Fired from his job for an incident in which he was assaulted and he's been told that if it had happened at any other time he would not have been fired for. So our primary income is gone. He's looking for jobs - but it's tough in this economy. I don't think anyone appreciates just how tough unless they're actually trying to find a job right now. I feel like most people still assume there are always a few jobs out there - you just have to go out and ask for them. Well - there are jobs out there, but there are way more job-seekers than jobs at this point. You can't just ask anymore - you have to ask faster and better than 10 other people for each job. The odds aren't in your favor - sure, you'll probably get a job eventually, but right now eventually could mean 5 months...that's a long time to go without substantial income.

So what does this mean? Do you think we're lazy and should just be working harder? Are we greedy? No one foresaw this economic bust - I don't care if you've "been saying it for years" or you "knew it was coming". Yeah - we all KNOW that a big earthquake will hit LA - but do you know when? Do you know exactly where in LA? Do you know HOW it will strike? No. Without that kind of specific information your predictions are useless - and we bought a house at a time when we had no reason to believe the house would be worth less than half what we paid in just 2 years. At the time we bought EVERYONE was saying it'd be a great investment - it should only increase in value, even in just 5 short years. So what are we supposed to do? It IS worth half what we owe. It looks like it will take much longer than 5 years to get BACK to the value we bought it at.

Yet we're still making our mortgage...but we don't know for how much longer. Foreclosure is a real possibility unless TH can find work reasonably soon. If it does come to foreclosure...really America? Is it entirely our fault? Are we a bunch of lazy sob's getting what we asked for? What we deserve?

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Modest Proposal

There are a LOT of piss-poor drivers out there. A lot. And, unfortunately, it seems that most often these bad drivers are also driving large vehicles. This correlation is downright distressing. And dangerous.

What I propose is this: we make driver testing mandatory, every 2 years. Both written and performance. And then have tests to qualify for a specific class of vehicle. To start, you get to drive a smart car, or similar sized vehicle. If, after 2 years, you've got a clean record of no accidents (that were your fault) and you can pass the test again, then you can test for a larger class vehicle. But you will have to continue to qualify to drive that larger vehicle every 2 years.

What's that? Your lifestyle requires you drive a truck? THEN LEARN TO DRIVE IT RESPONSIBLY!!!! Because quite frankly, in your current incapable hands that "truck" is a multi-ton killing machine. A weapon, with some added features like space to carry passengers and cargo.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Baby "Thing"

So - I was on Facebook, looking at suggestions of people I might know, when I noticed that a lot of them were people from high school that I either lost track of, or never really knew that well. And then I noticed, nearly all of their profile pictures were of them with kids. I turn 26 this year. And I feel like most of my peers are either already parents, or well on their way, ie pregnant. Then I start to feel panicked. We had been on that track, until the husband was fired. Now it's out of the question until he gets settled into a job and we have health insurance again. The trouble is, I don't know when that'll be. And I go back and forth. Sometimes I feel so ready and so behind and want to have a baby as soon as possible. But other times, I think I'm still young, and there are so many things we can do now that will be difficult with a child. And honestly, sometimes, I feel like I wouldn't know what to do with one should we have, maybe waiting awhile longer is fine. I don't know - I just hate feeling like I'm doing the wrong thing, or missing out on what's important. A lot of those people never left my hometown - and I used to think that it was a bit sad. I mean, here I am, over a thousand miles from where I was born, and making it totally on my own (well, with the husband of course). And I know we've both grown so much from this journey - but at what cost?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


It's all a mystery to me. I said that phrase to my boss in response to being asked why my work was a certain way - not a good explanation and it is now my job to unravel the mystery. But I've found myself thinking more about that phrase. And where else it applies - quite frankly, right now, it is ALL a mystery to me. As in, everything. Life. The meaning of life. What we should be doing with the gift of Life. All of feels like a mystery. I thought I knew once, or had a pretty good idea...but now I feel totally and utterly uncertain. The only thing I know is the present, and I feel pretty confident that a good game plan is to make the most of and enjoy the present. Beyond a mystery to me.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Good Quotes

I like good quotes. I find it reassuring when I find one that really resonates - it helps me remember that others have gone through what I'm going through and I'm not alone. Lately I've been feeling more down on our financial situation and the way BBBB was fired and frustrated that it feels like we've had many, many challenges in the few short years we've been married. And then I saw this quote:

"If you're going through hell, keep going." -Winston Churchill

Of course - I know others have gone through much worse, and I wouldn't want to go through hell with anyone else at my side...but I think it's fair to acknowledge we're going through a hard time right now...and it's nice to remember that the best thing to do at this point is "keep moving forward" - there's always another side, and maybe once we get there, we'll feel it's all been worthwhile. Or at least we'll appreciate the relative calm that much more.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Life as a Game of Chess?

Lately we've been facing a challenge and it's pretty scary. In the midst of the recession my husband, who henceforth shall be referred to as Benny Boo Boo Boo (or BBBB) for short (we like movie quotes), has been fired and now wants to change careers. It's a tough time to do that. Adding to the stress, we are in a house that's worth 55% of what we owe on it. It seems like the easiest thing would be to stop paying the mortgage and see if the bank wants to modify our loan then. I've tried for about 6 months now to get them to modify it w/o us going into default. They, so far, have been uninterested. And if we foreclose, oh well - we're then free to move into an apartment closer to where I work. As long as they don't mind our foreclosure...But, complicating this is the fact that the career BBBB wants to move into will do a credit check - and not meeting your financial obligations is pretty much a fail - no can do - we won't hire you. Sigh. So we have to find a way to pay the mortgage. All this is more confusing when I think that BBBB was going for that same job almost 3 years ago, but it didn't work out. What if it had then? Wouldn't our lives be that much simpler? Of course, if it had - I might not be on the path I am now. I would probably have been content to be a stay-at-home-mom. I still feel like that would be ideal. But we can't afford it...and now I'm pretty content with this other path.

Basically, confusing as that paragraph was, my point is this: I feel like the past 3 years of our lives have been building up to this moment. Like since then we've been involved in a giant game of chess - and only now am I starting to realize that we're limited in options. It's like waking up in the middle of the game, and seeing that you have about 2 moves left - and all the moves you made up to this point are what's trapped you now. I'm not very good at's hoping I am somewhat better at living life.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Shifting Change

"Whatever happened happened for a reason and could not have happened any other way" - I want to believe this, I really do. But I don't completely. I worry that it COULD have happened another way, or worse, SHOULD have happened a different way.

I feel like I'm in a shifting puzzle and that if I only pick the right move, then everything will work out fine. But I have several options before me, and I'm not sure which one is right. I have no idea what the outcome of any choice is at this point - but I know I don't want to make a bad one.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Thank you to the lady that waved today. I was driving during rush hour and let someone merge in front of me, just like I usually do (I figure if we all did rush hour would go a lot faster) but today something different happened. The woman driving the car I let in, waved, to show her appreciation. That seems to never happen here in Phoenix; in fact, I think Phoenix drivers are the rudest of my experience. And that little gesture, so small, requiring little effort on her part, really made my day. It made the whole drive more pleasant and helped me have the patience to endure the rude drivers who later cut me off only to brake suddenly right in front of me. It's really the small gestures that can make all the difference.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Where to Begin

Perhaps the best place to start is with why I've created this blog. I have another blog that is designed to keep friends and family informed of our doings from afar. It's filled with pictures and descriptions of activities and has been great fun to keep up. At the same time, it is not the kind of place for ranting or sharing general opinions about various happenings in the world as I experience them. This blog, I hope, will be the venue for that.

About this Blog

I have a journal. You know, the real kind...paper, bound in a book form...nice leather cover. And I do write in it...every few months. I like it, but somehow I find it hard to keep up regularly. I'm at a computer nearly all the time, so I find it easier to keep up on this blog. So, that's what this blog is for. To help me journal when I'm away from my journal. A place to collect my thoughts before I lose them to the chaos of my mind.

Or see my first post here. That's why I started this blog.