Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Money and Sunshine

In spite of not great financial circumstances, I've been doing a pretty good job of managing the household budget. There's not much wiggle room, that's for sure, but even so, I've been frugal, so things are getting paid and paid on time...and we're even getting ahead in some areas! I mailed the last payment for the hubby's car today, so as soon as the check clears, we officially own it. That's a good feeling. We also had to buy a new computer in November when our laptop and desktop went kaput at the same time...we bought a package through Best Buy with 0% financing for a year, but we knew we'd only need a few months to take care of it. Our fourth payment will be the last payment, and that's in just a few days.

That's two pretty big bills out of the way. I put us on a debt reduction plan because I cannot stand owing money--and even worse, paying interest on the money that's owed. Other than a few unexpected medical bills, everything is right on target. We're still planning on selling the house, though the issue of when has become a big question. We were trying to get it ready for this month, but it looks like it's going to be postponed until May. There are so many homes in our neighborhood for sale and I worry about whether we'd even be able to get a buyer. Some of the homes have been for sale for over a year, and still several others are standing empty after being foreclosed upon. If the hubby finds a job in the next few months, our plan is to keep the house for probably another year, but I guess we'll have to wait and see. Although, I pointed out to my husband that if we stick to our debt reduction plan, we'll have our house paid off in 2021, which will only be 16 years into our 30 year mortgage. Of course, that's if things work out as planned, and honestly, it seems silly to me to try and make such long term financial plans when the economy is still such a mess. Job prospects continue to be grim for the hubby and I don't know what will happen in June when his unemployment benefits run out. We're hopeful he'll be able to get an extension, but his last statement showed that all benefits terminate on June 27th. All we can do is wait.

Other than that, we're coasting along. The weather has been beautiful and we actually got into the 70s today. Sunny, breezy AND the tulips and daffodils are getting ready to bloom. Hello to Spring, my how I've missed you!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

When It Rains...

Well, I'm pretty well out of my emotional funk. This is due to a terribly sick four-year-old who is requiring some serious cuddle time and a lot of loving. It was a long day at work, but rather than rush and take care of household chores or grading papers, I spent the evening snuggling on the couch with the munchkin, then laying in bed with her rubbing her back while she tried to sleep. Her little body is just being wracked with coughs, she's running a fever, and the antibiotics are doing bad things to her tummy. Poor kiddo is miserable, but it really made me slow down, and for that small part of it, I'm grateful. I would, however, trade places with her in a second if it meant she'd feel better.

I just glanced at the clock and realized that it is now late enough that I can't finish any work, even if I were to start it now. So, I'm leaving it all alone tonight and will be going to bed early instead. Maybe I'll get some good sleep and finally shake off the time-change-blues!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Missing Girl

I don't think people intentionally lose themselves. I believe it's a gradual undoing...maybe the result of something major, maybe the result of subtle issues and conflicts that occur over time, the occasional compromise of beliefs or values that at the time seems to be for the greater good. All of those things and probably many, many more lead to a shift, a transformation or transmutation. It's something that occurs, sometimes so slowly and with such trickery that it doesn't even occur to us that anything has changed at all, until one day, we look in the mirror and are startled by what's staring back at us.

I've been looking in the mirror a lot lately.

It's not just the physical changes I'm noticing, though they are the most noticeable. The increasingly dark circles under my eyes getting bigger, the sparkle in my eyes fading, the frown lines getting deeper, more gray hair. Gray hair and wrinkles come with the passage of time and I tell myself that each one is the result of life experience. But the dull eyes and dark circles are something else entirely. I know I'm tired. That's not a secret, certainly not anything new. I've suffered from random bouts of insomnia for as long as I can remember. This time, though, it's all stress related. And I don't like the type of person I become after long periods of stress. My patience is terribly thin and I become quick-tempered. My tolerance for frustration is nil.

I was driving to the dentist yesterday with a raging toothache, thinking about all of this. It was an interesting drive. The past year has been difficult, but I chide myself, because really, most years are difficult in their own ways and I've made it to where I am in spite of those difficulties. I suppose I'm tired of things being difficult. Just for a while, I'd like things to be a little easier--easier from my perspective at least. I'd like for my time to be my own. The weekdays blend into each other in a chaotic mess of work, chores and more work. The weekends are spent cleaning and doing laundry and grading papers.

I shed a lot of tears in the past 24 hours when I realized that my life has turned into the exact type of thing that I always swore to myself it wouldn't...living paycheck to paycheck, barely seeing my daughter and missing her so much as I'm running and running to take care of everything that needs taking care of, taking on more work to make ends meet, not feeling valued or appreciated or even just heard in most areas of my life. Or, more accurately on that last point, I feel like I'm often not heard, which then leads to those feelings of not feeling valued or appreciated.

I need and want to scale back so badly. I need to do it and do it soon. One of my dearest mentors told me last week that she's quitting her job in six months and I started to cry--not only because it makes me sad, but because I see her moving forward and living out part of the dream I had for myself. I'm not jealous--I'm happy for her. But I'm hurting for me. It's not her fault, obviously, that she's paid her dues and is now in a position to stay home and be with her children. That's beyond fantastic for her. It just comes at a time when I feel like an impostor in my own life.

I believe that this is all circumstantial, and in a few years, I'll look back on this time and remember that it was hard, but also just one more thing that I got through. I tell myself that it's all character-building and teaching me valuable things about love, life, living and work. But for now, just for a little while, I'll be wistful and sad...and hopefully, that can turn into something more productive and who knows? Maybe in six months, I'll have a new plan in place that will have room for letting me scale back a little.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

I'm a Bad Blogger

Yeesh...I haven't posted anything in quite a while. I'm still alive and kickin', but just slow on posting stuff. I suppose it's a good sign--there hasn't been much of anything going on and I'm sorely lacking in inspiration to post something worthwhile. The university was on break last week and I didn't have to go rushing off to teach. It was nice to have a few nights at home. Periodically I wonder what my life would be like if I only had to work one job. I think I'd like it. Especially if one job paid what I'm making at both. It would be nice to have a little less stress but still be able to make ends meet.

Hmmm...what else? We got our taxes done. That's always a painful experience. It's sort of disheartening to see what the feds and state get from us, and then add up what we pay out of pocket for medical and health expenses and it's no wonder money's always so tight. We are getting a refund, so I'm not complaining. Every penny counts, but even more so with the hubby still not working. Things are hard all over, I know.

That's really about it. I don't even have a menu for this week. I think the next two days will be leftovers, then maybe pork chops on Wednesday and chicken on Thursday. Friday will be some sort of meatless dish, but I don't know what yet.

I think I'm in a little bit of a funk and that's okay. Keeps me looking forward to feeling up and happy again!