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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?

3.04.2009

And Don't Even MAKE Me Talk About My Eyebrows

After writing such a stupid poem poking fun at my miserable husband's cough, it was only appropriate that it would turn out to be The Plague. The universe loves golden opportunities like this. Oh, you think coughing is bad? How about not breathing? Yeah, write a poem about THAT at 2:00 in the morning while you're on the phone with the advice nurse. So, yeah. Chris' cough was, um... (small voice) severe asthma. But, we're all better.

Moving right along! *claps*

Seeing as how March 31 is only weeks away, I asked Chris yesterday if he had followed up with his boss about "The Mix". Of course he hadn't because HE HADN'T THOUGHT ABOUT IT.

(And why would he? When we have pleeeeenty of money in the bank for all the black beans a girl and her cat can eat in a week.)

So, at my urging he did follow up and was told "it looks good" or "it's coming together" or something else completely unhelpful. I'm not sure how close exactly they want him to get to his last day before they let him in on the secret that is "The Mix". I'm thinking maybe they'll wait until he gets in his car with his picture frames and action figures and then his boss will pop up from the backseat and be all "psyche". Because, seriously.

So, I interviewed last week with a little bank you may have heard of. I can't tell you the name, but it rhymes with J.P. Smorgan. Everything went well other than that I was wearing a suit that made me look exactly like an airline pilot. And the entire interview was made up of those ridiculous standard interview questions like "If you saw a puppy, would you kick it?".

Ummmm, no?

I tried to sound unique and smart and professional in my answers, but it was a daunting task to try to come up with new ways to describe my CONFLICT RESOLUTION SKILLS and TIME MANAGEMENT STRENGTHS and DID I MENTION I'M A PEOPLE PERSON WITH A FLEXIBLE SCHEDULE WHO SOMETIMES LANDS PLANES ON RIVERS?

And then, and I have NO IDEA WHY, as I shook his hand at the end of the interview I said "I'll hear from you soon". I think I probably meant to say "I HOPE to hear from you soon", but I'm really not sure. All I know is that a strange look flickered across his face like he was deciding whether this was a threat or maybe I was just psychic?

Still, it was like a gut punch when the H.R. woman told me a few days later "they decided to move forward with another candidate". (Obviously a puppy kicker.)

Of course they did. Because it's not like the position paid almost six figures and was 15 minutes from home and would have allowed me to take Savannah out of after school care and provide my family with medical insurance at the exact time when we're going to need it.

Oh, wait.

On the upside I did return the airline pilot suit to TJ Maxx and bought my cats a scratching post, so at least my priorities are still in order.

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