Friday, March 18, 2011

March 18th ~ Friday State of Our Union Address No.3

**That's it!!  I've had it!**

The thing about being a major contributor in this family's support system during such delicate times - as I find myself at the moment - is that, for my particular roll, I had no other choice but to be cast as "the bad guy" in this financial crisis/drama/horror-story.  The crummy part is I always feel like I'm the "bad guy," and I hate that.  Our doorbell rang a few minutes ago; it was the mailman.  We don't get many visitors, so I knew it was either the post or some attorney's office runner delivering a letter demanding payment on delinquent accounts.  Post it was, delivering certified mail from Chase about our delinquent home mortgage payment, accompanied by a brochure informing how to avoid foreclosure - nice touch.

**That's it!  I'm on the verge!!  I can hardly stand it anymore!!**

Black hat on, I answered the door.  (That's my job... REALLY... no one else will get it.)  So, I get the door - at the same time trying to prevent the dogs from escaping (Run, dogs, RUN!) - and, of course, inquiring minds want to know who it was and what was the reason.  "Bad guy," me, has to tell "poor me, guy" husband that it was certified mail which required signature at time of delivery.

"Let me see it." says my husband, holding his hand out.

I think, "Here you go, dude. May the force be with you.  I hope you stand by the sink; you just might throw-up." as I hand it over to him.

Ahhhh... Finally, the huge sense of relief I've been waiting for.  I am now freed from the solitude and desolation that comes with being finance manager when no money is coming in; it's perfect timing for welcoming my husband to my world.  (Can  you tell who handles the bill paying?)   No longer in the land of making money, my husband's world for the past four and a half months has seen him move from the land of job hunting to floating in the sea of despair to drowning in an ocean of uncertainty, with occasional visits home-stressful-home.  He has now arrived where I've been floundering, and waiting for so long for him to join me...,   Hmmmm... What To Do? City

**Now that I've started my little rant, I might as well finish... even though the waves of anxiety and hostility have subsided since taking a break from writing to hang out with the family and eat a lousy grocery freezer pizza dinner.**

This is what I don't like... I don't like when someone cops an attitude when I answer a question they asked.  As if my saying, "As of yesterday, we are two months behind on car payments; two and a half behind on mortgage." were a personal attack.  I simply answered the question:  How far behind are we on the car and house payments?  The anger reflecting in the eyes of the person asking the question, coupled with tension filled body language, made me feel a bit ill.  All I did was give him the facts - plain and simple.  I'm feeling a little sick to my stomach revisiting the scenario, here...  This gave evidence that my husband may still not be ready to enter life as I know it.  Hmmmm... What to do?

I feel like the "most hated wife in America," all because I answered the front door, then answered a direct question, and have been of no use in finding a solution to get us out of our financial situation.  I feel like it's all my fault.  I am the "bad guy."

A positive is that "our union" is still intact.  However, I'm still scared as can be.  We are now navigating the roughest part of the road, sign ahead:  *There is no sign!!*  I just hope and pray we survive head-on collision with the realities of approaching life lessons.

***Stop...!  I want to get out!!  NOW!!! 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March 17 ~ Four* + One** = Takes Getting Used To

During the time when we were Four* (* plus a dog), there was little conflict, tension, friction or cause for debate.  Add One** (** plus a giant dopey pup) and things get complicated.  When my husband had to move out of the country for work, we did all we could to make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone.  What made it easy was the fact that he had finally found a job, and even if it meant his moving away for it, "things were going to be okay now."   The other thing that made being apart easier was that we had already been practicing having him gone - in shorter increments of time anyway - while at his job in Denver.  That job required he go on short trips regularly to projects in California and Nevada.  We were okay with that because, in California he would see family; in Nevada...  I guess, "What happens in Las Vegas (or Henderson) stays in Las Vegas." Kidding!  It was no big deal, Denver was just a short flight away.

When my husband was laid off from his job in Denver, there was no way in the world I could have ever imagined our life taking the turns and twists it has as a result of the downturn and certain demise of the, what once was and never will be the same again, American home building sector.  His experience in this area of the American workforce spanned many years and covered most phases of  the luxury home building industry.  I was proud - still am, of course - of all his hard work and accomplishments. (I would have been proud of my son, had he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps.)  My husband's hard work and motivation took him from an entry level - grunt work - position, in his early 20's, and advanced his career to level of V.P. of Customer Service/Warranty Dept.  Today, I consider his expertise and experience to be strongest in the area of team development; He is very good at it.  At his last job, for instance, he moved to a foreign country, hired the staff to assist in running a customer service/home warranty department; he trained, instilled confidence in, and helped team members acquire skills and talents which they will carry with them into any jobs which may come next.  He also made sure his staff was fairly compensated for their work.  (Not what is normally expected of employers in that country.)  He values the importance of teamwork and effort for the good of all.

Now that he's back home though, something is amiss.  He keeps to his room most days, coming down at mealtime or when he needs to run an errand or two.  When he does join in on family time, the atmosphere isn't what it once was (that will take time); there isn't that easy-going vibe we are normally all about.  When the house is quiet, it's too quiet.  When things start to liven up, it's usually because the dogs are being playfully raucous, which eventually makes the rest of us cranky and unpleasant.  In the middle of it all, there are eggshells to walk on when the head of the household is in our midst.  He's down... can you blame him. Now is a very difficult time; worse part is that he's been here before.  Difference now is that, number one, in the past, company downsizing or short-term lay offs went hand-in-hand in the home building industry.  Number two, the kids aren't little anymore; they are all too aware of what's going on (where in the past we could easily hide the scariness that comes along with economic uncertainty); now the kids stress and worry right along with us.  Finally... jobs?  Where are the jobs?    No one who comes from a home building background knows.  My husband has friends and colleagues who are at just as great a loss.  These workers were at the head of the line to lose jobs when banks caused the housing market meltdown.  And they are, like us, at the head of the line to have homes foreclosed upon by those same banks, when all financial resources are gone.

What more can be done?  Keep searching for a job - in any sector.  What else?  Be thankful we still have each other.  Anything more?  Pray.  Pray that this family of five, with our two much loved dogs, not come into harms way on whatever path life opens up to us.  That all families going through this very same hardship remain hopeful and find strength in each other to make it from one day to the next.  Yeah... pray.  Just pray.  Whatever happens... It will just take getting used to.

  ~ ~  I just peeked out the's snowing tonight. I love the snow.  ~ ~

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March 15th ~ First The Good News

In five short weeks our financial situation will be eased by the addition of state unemployment benefits.  Good news, right?  As for tonight?  Crunching the numbers, rubbing my forehead, and hoping to make the throbbing stop. Yes, my head hurts.  It's been hurting most of the day. I blame lack of a solid night's sleep and the stress from having to face another "15th of the month" without having cash on hand to pay bills, not to mention, I have been so preoccupied with "stuff" that I've neglected to take my medication for the last four or five days. (This is bad; now I must be extra vigilant at checking for fatal body rash which may appear due to drops or increases of chemicals in my blood as I get back to my regular daily dosage.)  Also, could just be allergies.  Whatever it is, all I have to say about it is... NUTS!

Speaking of nuts... They are not only a wonderfully, crunchy snack - all healthy and delicious - they can also easily replace an entire meal.  I've gotten in the habit of munching on pumpkin seeds on a regular basis, and could probably eat a pouch a day.  Yum.  I could probably live on pumpkin seeds and oranges, I love them that much.

Anyway, today was bill paying day and this is what "the numbers" crunched:

  • Combined Family Cash On Hand  ~  $  595.25  * Woo! Whoo!! Way more than I thought.
  • Loans Due (and Past Due)
    • Feb Mtg Pymt  $2,376.86
    • Mar Mtg Pymt  $2,376.86
    • Feb Auto Loan $   627.90
    • Mar Auto Loan $   627.90
      • Total Loan Payments Due 3/15 - 3/22  ~  $6,009.52
  • Household Expenses Due
    • 3/17  Gas & Electric  $  243.67  * Whew, thank goodness it's been mild.
    • 3/15 Water District    $    93.88  
    • 3/22 Phone/Internet
    •          Cable Package $  218.80  * A job-seekers' 1st line of communication.
    • 3/17 Wireless Pkg     $  317.76  * Secondary line of communication for all job seekers.
      • Total Household Expenses Due 3/15 - 3/22 ~ $  874.11
        • Total Loans & Expenses Due ~ $6,883.63  *WOW!

Hmmmm...  Here's the bad news... What do I do?  Those calculations don't even include $50 we need for fuel for our vehicle, $175 for a week's food, $261.00 for exams, $50 for school lunches.  And forget about hospital, doctor, credit card and other miscellaneous bills! What can I do?!?  

Thinking cap on, Me! What to do!  Thinking....  I don't want to think.  My head hurts.  I'm going to bed and escape this nightmare.  Crunch on that numbers.

    ...Have those five weeks passed yet?

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    March 14 ~ Things I Did Not Find Time For Today

    Each night before falling a sleep I run down the next day's to-do list in my head (always the same list - it's more like a try-not-to-forget list); by the time I force my eyes open next morning, the obvious has occurred, "What the heck was I supposed to do today."  Write a list, right?!?  I would write things down... but, I forget to.  I'm convinced going over my mental list is enough.  Will I ever learn?  Sunday night lists are especially challenging because my mental notes cover what needs to happen Monday through Friday.  Last night, I thought I'd keep things simple by focusing only on today, Monday, which didn't prove much of a challenge:
    • Morning shower
    • Breakfast
    • Phone calls
    • More phone calls
    • And... more phone calls
    • Check calendar for date and bills due
    Accomplished... Nada.  Not that I didn't accomplish anything - it just wasn't anything on the list.

    I didn't realize today was Pi Day, 3/14, until afternoon.  My daughter wasn't hungry at lunch because they had pie in trig class in observation of the value of pi = 3.14159... Fun, right?  I like that.  But I must call the school financial aid people and ask for help with A.P. test fees due at the end of the week.

    I skipped breakfast, and had to save my shower for later in the day.  As for the phone calls... NADA.  Didn't make any; didn't answer any. *I did answer a text message from my cousin in China, after which I gave him the go ahead to ring me, so technically, I did answer a call.  His call made my day, so at least I was happier than usual this morning.

    The one call I will definitely get to tonight is to the lovely woman from the area Mormon ward (who put together a food box for us at Thanksgiving) and ask if they are taking collections of clothing and toys for people in Japan.  I have tons of stuff which never made it on to e-bay or sold at either of three garage sales we've had since our financial struggles began.  I will happily release these items which are all in excellent condition to those in need and less fortunate than I.  Very glad my kids have always taken such good care of their clothing and belongings.

    So, now, let me get things sorted out here:
    1. Today is March 14, 2010:  Depressing because it's the day I sort out which bills need to be paid with next payroll deposit.  *Four and a half months since last payroll deposit.
    2. It is Monday:  Depressing because moratorium from last Monday remains in place... no health insurance means no getting sick.
    3. Being Monday and not having health insurance coverage reminds me that I must call the county health offices to ask where I can go for low-cost medical care and free prescription meds.  Depressing because I'm next up to run out and am not supposed to go off any meds without being under physicians care.  (I could die... I don't want to die!)
    4. Back to the date, 3/14:  Depressing to not be able to make auto loan payment of $627.90, due on the 17th ~ feels worse knowing I couldn't afford to make February payment either.
    5. If it were possible, I would make a late mortgage payment for $2,370.00 tomorrow.  Depressing because I would rather be able to make past due mortgage payments for both February and March.
    6. Being that tomorrow is the 15th,  I'd love to be able to also make payments for all delinquent hospital bills, medical bills, and credit card bills. Thankful I paid every small personal loan before cash completely ran out.  Still depressing, but breathing easier because I don't owe friends or family members money borrowed.
    7. Tomorrow:
      • Call school counselors and ask about the program which provides money for students who cannot cover A.P. test fees.
      • Call Tri-County Health Services about free healthcare services.
      • Don't bother thinking about bills I am unable to pay.  There is only so much that can be done with a couple of hundred dollars... like, buying food and gas!
      • Seriously think about humbling myself to ask someone to help us with next month's utilities.

    Most importantly, try to forget how badly life sucks, right about now.  I am happy I was able to write today's blog.  That counts for something, right?

    Sunday, March 13, 2011

    March 13th ~ Feeding A Family

    Tonight's offering
    Trying to feed a family of five is getting trickier and trickier as money becomes scarce.  In the past I actually  thought  figuring out what to make for dinner (or any meal for that matter) was the hardest part of day-to-day management of our family.  I was wrong.  My whole "what you see is what you will eat" motto has been well received at our table, and some people are enjoying dishes that I thought they would never touch, like baked fish casserole OR pot roast ~ easy on the meat, extra veggies.  They also have not been fussy about having the old standards more often - pasta, burritos, tacos, burgers, hot dogs..., as eating out has become too great a luxury (unless my wonderful cousin sends us gift cards for California Pizza Kitchen... Our favorite!).

    I will be the first to admit that we are - were - big into eating out; mostly drive-thru.  It was a habit developed after moving back to the mainland from the small Hawaiian island we were trapped on... I mean living.  Once back to middle-class suburbia, with fast-food places everywhere  you turn, there was no going back for us.  We were hooked!  I remember a few times when I was so excited about the idea of ordering through a speaker, then getting a burger, fries and a large Diet Coke through a window, that I actually placed an order, drove up to the "Pay here" window; paid, and then proceeded to drive off. WITHOUT MY FOOD.

    I also won't deny that I enjoy dining out in nice restaurants - I'd even go as far as to say "fine dining," but that's really not how we roll.  (Somebody else would have to pay.)  The idea of running a restaurant has often crossed my mind when it's functioning at lowest capacity.  (What am I thinking? Restaurant??)  When my son was about two years old he promised he wanted to be a pizza maker and have a pizzeria when he grew up; when his younger sister came into the picture, she also would take part in the plan.  They were so cute play-acting out their little restaurant scenarios.  (We still have the handcrafted miniature kitchen set that dad made for our son.)  In kindergarten, when our youngest was asked to tell what she wanted to be when she grew up, her answer:  A chef.  By then the entire family was hooked on every food and cooking program on t.v.

    For years now, my restaurant fantasy has been to run a place different from any place I've been to lately.  It's accommodations would be simple, streamlined, and purposeful... find a stool at the counter, read what the offerings are on the menu board, eat and pay.  Simple right?  Just like from my "what you see is what you eat" concept at home.  Would it work?  Who knows?  I just think it's somewhere I'd give a try.  In the mean time, I'll just have to keep making "it" happen in my own home; for the five of us... WHAT WE SEE, IS WHAT WE EAT.

    Gotta say, tonight's dinner was delicious!