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3.26.2009

Do Over

Last week Chris found out he would get the "opportunity" to "interview" for his current position.

Isn't that awesome? Leaving your office to take the elevator upstairs to interview for the job that you're going to go back downstairs and keep doing for the rest of the day just as you have for the last five years?

That interview was on Monday. Poor Chris stopped 4 times at gas station bathrooms on his way to work that morning, so full he was of nerves. And the previous night's mexican food. Because he self medicates. He was pretty confident he interviewed well, you know, since IT'S ALREADY HIS JOB AND ALL. But, as the days went by he started doubting and becoming quiet. If the last two years of financial angst have taught us anything, it's that nothing is for sure.

That, and that the cats will eat lunchmeat in a pinch.

If Chris were to not get this job, then he would be unemployed by Monday with no prospects on the horizon and no medical insurance for our family.

Last night he dryly joked that maybe on Monday he and I could drive around checking pay phones for change, but I swear I heard a sob catch in his throat.

A year and a half ago when our short sale finally closed and we were down to our last nickel and inexplicably decided to move to The Most Stuck Up City in Southern California, I started practicing The Secret.

I wrote sticky notes to myself like "Bora Bora!", "Pay off credit cards!", "No more dented cans!" and stuck them all over the house. I was so desperate to believe that I just needed to ORDER a better life from the Universe, that I consistently visualized good things coming to me and regularly pushed away understandable thoughts such as "So this is what starving children in Africa are missing? Sticky notes?".

Ironically - or is it coincidentally - last year was even worse than the one before it.

If only I had known that was only the beginning.

The beginning of our new "normal". A normal that brings with it daily worries about things I once took for granted as easily as the air I breathed. Things like medical insurance and being a stay at home mom. Things like full tanks of gas and a kitchen full of groceries and a husband that doesn't get sent home during the day because "there's just no work".

If only I had known that next we would sell our things. First, it would be because we were "downsizing". Then it would be for "extra money".

Eventually, and secretly, it would be for the mortgage payment.

If only I had known that I would be forced to go back to work. That Savannah would have to go to child care. That Chris would get laid off.

If only I had known that I was about to grow up.

I've pushed my cart through Target many times over the last year marveling in amazement at the thousands I've blown there. All the while aching to buy JUST ONE FRIVOLOUS THING. The nails, tanning, and personal training are all a thing of the distant past. As are the TURKEY DOGS.

We've stayed home weekend after weekend unable sometimes to even afford the gas it would take to drive somewhere. We've started walking to parks, going to the library, and clipping coupons. We've conserved water, energy, and food.

I've watched our accounts - investments, checking, savings - drain away, taking my carefree attitude with it. I've cut back and wised up. I used to dream of Range Rovers and vacation homes. Now, I hope for groceries and rent money and the collection calls to stop.

It wasn't that long ago that I believed we would recover financially without feeling any pain. Now, I realize what a waste that would have been.

Without the last two years I wouldn't have learned to prioritize, to improvise. I wouldn't have learned what I'm made of. I wouldn't have learned that I can rise to the occasion.

I wouldn't have learned how strong Chris and I are together.

Most of all, I wouldn't have learned how to be truly, truly, overwhelmingly appreciative when Chris learned this morning that he got the job.

Thank you, universe. You can stop now. We have learned our lesson. THAT is the secret.

Now. I have some coupons to go clip. And maaaaybe a trip to Target? A small one?

35 comments:

Jay said...

Brainstorm: You could go talk with the d-bag execs at AIG, since they obviously aren't anywhere near as receptive to listening to what life has to say as you are. You might even get a tasty little check from your fellow taxpayers for it.

Caryn Caldwell said...

Wow. Haven't really caught up with you in a while, and it seems like you've had quite a time in the interim. I admire you for being able to see the positive in it, though, and I hope that things are looking up for you.

Oh, and the lunchmeat thing? Hilarious.

Mrs. Chicken said...

This is really beautiful. I was so happy to read that your husband got the job.

annenahm said...

I'm so glad to see you back, and glad Chris got the job.

Erin said...

Glad this post has a happy end for you and your family!

Little Ms J said...

I look forward to your posts and I'm thrilled that your husband got to keep his job. My husband and I both work for a troubled company and we go to work every Friday with knots in our stomach since layoffs are on Friday. I fed my dogs cheese and crackers for two days and things are very very different. It makes me almost nauseous to think how naive and spoiled I was just a year ago.

Good luck to you and your hubby!

Cakewalk said...

Tears!! Oh my gosh. I don't even know you, but I am so rooting for a happy ending for your family! I am so glad that post had the happy ending (I was worried in the middle of it)...

Rubberbacon said...

I'm so glad the job worked out for your husband!

Anonymous said...

thank goodness, now if we could just get those powerball numbers to you all would be right with the world

Amy said...

My husband and I have so so so SO been there! Fortunately, we didn't have a lot to lose when it started. But we went through it when everyone else was doing well financially. Everyone we knew was buying brand new cars and houses and fancy electronics. We lived in a tiny apartment, had a 10 year old vehicle and were struggling to pay basic utilities. I'd go weeks without checking the mail, because I knew it was just bills I couldn't pay. I wanted to vomit every time the phone rang.

We've slowly climbed out of that hell. And I learned a lot. How to manage money better, what I could live without, where to cut corners. I think it made us smarter, stronger, and gave us a better ability to appreciate what we have.

Things WILL get better for you. Someday, it will all just be a bad memory.

Alias Mother said...

Oh, I hear you and just went through it myself. Well, I'm still in it, a bit, but things are okay. There's nothing quite as humbling as looking at a pile of bills and knowing there's no way to pay them, is there?

But, but, but (and I'm trying to think of a nice way to say this, because I mean it so nicely), I've been reading you for a long time. And I used to think, "She is so funny and talented, but she's a little immature, no?" Now, you sound like a real, live grown-up. You sound like a better, tougher, stronger woman. Still funny, but funny with substance. And I think funny with substance is so much better.

I sound like a condescending ass. I'm sorry. Cross my heart I mean it 100% supportively. I'm totally cheering you on.

Lena said...

Alias Mother - I know that's supposed to be a compliment, but I DON'T WANT TO BE A GROWN UP! WAAAH!

(...Well, that was pretty immature, right? There's hope yet!)

Anonymous said...

Awesome post! I am so happy that your husband got his job, but more importantly that you are able to look at these past few years and now see how despite the pain, you have come through the refiners fire, a stronger, more beautiful person. I love your posts and look forward to more writing from you.

The cat--hilarious! Is he stealing your lunch meat as well. Perhaps it's time to cut him off.

jennster said...

i'm so happy to read that chris got his job back. *phew*

but this post was powerful honey. i'm really happy to hear what you've learned.... all the while my heart ached for you. i hope you carry what you've learned with you- it's hard to not be affected when it's IN YOUR FACE, but once the hardships become a thing of the past, it's easy to forget about them. god, not that i think you deserved any of this at all, i hope you know that's not what i'm saying.

i hope this is just the beginning of things coming together and looking up for you and your family. hugs and love and good thoughts. xooxxo

Sparrow said...

I am so happy that Chris has his job. I wish you and other families were not suffering with such uncertainty and stress.

Mrs JP Chaos said...

Thank you for posting this...I hope you continue to talk about this journey that you family is experiencing.

Obviously, there are a lot of people going through similar things, but I was impressed by how you just told that story.

I've always enjoyed reading what you have to say. Especially today.

Chris said...

Pinch me, I'm dreaming. Wait, no, punch me, I'm a heavy sleeper.

Y said...

I think you should buy a golf cart to celebrate. And you can come pick me up in it and we'll go drive around in my neighbors circular driveway. And if we got hot, we can just jump in their fountain! It will be the best celebration EVER.

Griffey and Charlie said...

Damn, That's a very moving essay. Send it to CNN.

b said...

hope. that's nice. my husband's been out of work for a month and i'm panicking already. we've been poor before, i don't want to go back. mostly because i have 4 kids, and the 1300 sq ft apartment we looked at today seemed very tiny.

thanks for reminding me that this is a character building experience! i am truly happy for you and chris.

Anonymous said...

I love you so much. You make me smile. You and your beautiful family are an inspiration to us with famlies and tightening belts.

We will get through this and will do so stronger and better than ever!

Yay for us!

Marcie said...

So glad for you! I know this is cheesy to say, but I really love your blog and your writing. Your blog is one of my favourites.
Here's to good things to come :)

Julie said...

New to the blog, just exhaled for you. I am throwing out my request to the universe a better year for you and your fam.

Jules said...

I'm so happy that things are turning around for you-but also a little concerned . . .did the cat eat Savannah? Cuz he doesn't look like he's been scrimping on anything lately!

janny226 said...

So happy for you. Thanks for posting so honestly. And for including the end of the interview/job story at the same time! And, um, can I come be one of your cats?

You are lucky to have discovered a strong relationship with your husband amidst hardship. Nuff said from me on that right now.

B Alexander said...

Ohhh, honey, been there, was there, am still coming out of it...thanks for the post! The last six months/year has been a different kind of crazy for us, but similar. You wonder when enough is enough already, and then something else worse happens, but I totally agree, we didn't know what we had when we had it. Still wouldn't trade what I have learned or my relationship with my hubby or daughter for anything.
Just miss those trips to Target, or anywhere...:) Hang in there!

mothergoosemouse said...

What a relief. Amazing the perspective that hardship gives us. Hope yours is winding down.

Butrfly Garden said...

I'm so glad for you guys! There is always a silver lining - even if it's just the lesson learned. All your hard work will pay off someday, hon. Promise.

kimi said...

God is good. Even through the darkness. Oops, sorry...ALWAYS through the darkness.

Kim

Little Ms J said...

I know you have no idea who I am, but I just nominated you for a blog award on my page. Love your blog!

Ashley said...

Def. a trip to Target. It is in order. They do have the dollar isle that's not too shabby.

roztime said...

Thankyou for that post; I've also been dealing with 'cutting back' and reminiscing about the days when i could shop without thinking about when the mortgage payment's coming out next.
Congrats to your husband, & to yourself for surviving so gracefully :)

Katie said...

This post made me utterly, unabashedly grateful for the things I've been taking for granted.

Thank you

Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com said...

This is my first stop by your blog. I know this is an old post and that I'm a complete stranger, but I was so happy and relieved to hear that Chris got the job.

Halala Mama said...

I know exactly what it is to live this post. It sucks but we keep praying to come through it. It's absolutely draining after a while. God bless.


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