Monday, November 24, 2008


"Every article by Christopher J. Kelly of the Scranton Times Tribune contains five to seven swear words hidden amongst the letters of other words."
-Dwight K. Schrute, "The Office"

Once we got back from Pennsylvania, the weeks got busy. Jess had her play, and I took a mess of pictures (as usual). I had a great deal of fun sharing the pictures with the kids... I found that one should not play The Wall character and steal the entire show, but one of the girls did, and she was amazing and I adore her. I'm glad she's part of my daughter's life.

Photos are here and here if you're interested.

Jess' experience with the high school cast was a lot different than her experience with Rebel. I don't think she found it as satisfying. In fact, while the play was amazing and great and looked good, she hated it and hated everything about it, and I feel bad for her.

The theatre director allowed her to assistant direct, which you would think would be the best thing ever but I think she found it more frustrating than she ever imagined possible.

She was relieved when it was over and didn't go to the cast party. She went to a friend's house instead and spent the night watching Simon Pegg movies and just being done with the play. I felt badly for her, because I know that she locked herself out emotionally because of her frustrations. It was hard to watch.

Geoff got into some trouble at school, once again, and we're dealing with him on that.

Keri told me I need to blog it so we don't forget things, so we can look back in 20 years and have a good laugh but to be honest, I would rather not remember 15 minutes ago or last week or anything 20 years from now. I'm rather weary of dealing with him. More weary than a soul should be.

In the midst of all this, I turned 42 last week. My facebook page was ridiculously adorned with love and adoration from millions of friends and whatnot. Compared to a year ago at this time when I got 20 well wishes, it was funny to sit there and watch the little red notifications bubble go up and up and up. I think if it weren't for the birthday reminder on facebook it would have been a non-eventful day.

According to Douglas Adams, 42 is the answer to the question "what is the meaning of life?" in the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy. So I've decided that 42 is indeed a good number to be. Last year, 41 was a good year because it is the title of one of my favorite Dave Matthews Band songs. So if this year I embody the meaning of life, that's a good thing.

We didn't go out because we're desperately trying to save money. Doug did make a really nice dinner and we ate by candlelight as a family, which was enjoyable. The kids went 20 minutes without yelling SHUT UP at one another. That was refreshing. MB gave me a bottle of wine and fresh eggs from her chickens, and my sister mailed me a nice Shakespeare magnet and deck of playing cards of poets and playwrights.

I never talk about finances and politics on my blog, so this is a rare occurrence.

Like most of the rest of the planet, we're struggling with money right now. Some of this is our own fault for sure, but some of it can be blamed entirely on Doug's former employer for laying him off in early 2007.

When we bought the house in May 2006, we both were making good money and had savings in the bank. We were beating back our debt and smiling the whole time. We did a couple improvements on the house, like the doors in the woodstove room, and life was good.

Then, Doug's company got bought and the new company axed him. He spent several weeks unemployed, and he eventually found a new job and started that in May 2007. A job that he seems to enjoy, but which pays him $20k less than what he was making before.

That's a pantload of money in the greater scheme of things.

Shortly after he took that job, I had to start dipping into the savings to pay the mortgage. We started using our credit cards again to buy stuff like groceries and gas, which we normally would never do. Jess had expenses in the form of her trips to Germany and England, both of which we signed on for when the money was better. The cost of gas skyrocketed, and it began to cost us, and I'm not joking here, $500 a month just to get to our jobs.

Drip by drop the buckets filled and now we're having a tremendous time. The entire time I have been picking up side jobs, a few print design jobs, worked for Rebel to barter the fees off so Jess could go to camp for free (and admittedly, had the time of my LIFE!), and cried at Doug the whole time that he needed to get a part time job, because he has every Wednesday free.

I've been so stressed out about this that I wake up hyperventilating in the middle of the night. I turned into a Shrieking Cassandra thing on Doug a few weeks ago, wrote out what we owe, what we pay out, and how we're basically screwed. He finally got it.

We decided a few weeks ago that the money coming into the house wasn't sufficient enough for us to stay living here so we started looking at selling the house. And I know I said I'd never move, but the cost of heating this place, the size of it, and what it costs us for a mortgage every month is an albatross. We can buy something else in the regional school district for $230k and totally not have to get consumed by what it costs to live here.

But we can't sell the house.

Home values in our area (like most everywhere else) have dropped so far that we wouldn't make enough money on it to pay off the mortgage that we currently owe (ie: we owe $363k and if we were lucky right now we'd get about $350k for a house we paid $415k for. How lovely).

Doug started looking for per diem or part time work but is not finding any. My web design side jobs have pretty much stopped. I have one that I'm working on but am having a really hard time doing because I can't figure out the whole online bill pay portion of the job that they want done.

Tomorrow, Doug has a job interview.

He doesn't want to go back to doing speech therapy, but the reality is that there are jobs in the field and they pay a hell of a lot more than what he's getting now. And, on top of that, there are jobs closer to home.

He took his job in Boston in 2007 to get his foot in the door at a big city hospital and to get experience in a different field, to make him more marketable as perhaps a rehab director or manager... but 18 months later there are no jobs for him to step into.

So he's interviewing in a local town, which would cut his commute down to 20 minutes instead of the hour or more it takes him to get to the city. No more paying to park, no more filling the gas tank every week... he can go back to the every other. Combined with the drastic drop in gas prices in the past couple of months, and a salary close to what he was making when we bought this house, we'll be fine. But if he doesn't get this job, I'm not sure what we're going to have to do here.

On that sunny and cheery note, off to work! Yay! I am thankful that I have a job to go to, and that Doug does too. I keep telling myself it could be worse, and like good friends I know I feel thankful that we're healthy and well because we seriously could be one medical diagnosis away from homelessness.

More later -- I have more to say and ponder on the subjects at hand. But I have to get the boy to school on time.

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