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Night Owl

Working for the man, napping when I can.

Budgets are the new birth plans

Lately I am fascinated with money, the way I feel some are fascinated with fashion.

“Who wore what to the latest event and which designer was it modeled after? Look how flawlessly she wears that neckline even though women with her body type usually shy away from it! She makes it look so effortless!”

Money is just as much of a mystery to me. Some people make it look effortless! How do people just seem to know what to do with it? Was their upbringing that much different than mine, or are they just quicker on the uptake? Bob and I both spent our early twenties separately trashing our credit. I’m sure I’ve written about it before and I’m equally sure I’m not done writing about it.  We both fell in to the trap of easy credit cards and easier school loans. Before we even knew each other we were digging holes we would be in for the foreseeable future.

Whats funny is that when it comes to financial upbringings we couldn’t be more different. Not that one of our families was more well off than the other (although that is true), but that one of us grew up always knowing the numbers. Bob grew up with his mom telling him what every family member made, and talking to him about every financial decision. She would  buy things and then beg him to keep it a secret from his father. She taught him about money the way she understands money, which is good because learning from your parents about money is important, unless they woefully don’t understand money. She talked him through both of his parents bankruptcies and took him to get his first payday advance loan. When I met him she would regularly borrow money from him for her car payment, only for him to borrow it back the next week for his power bill.

I grew up in the opposite environment. Money was a private thing and talking about it to anyone was rude. I distinctly remember filling out college applications and then handing them to my parents to fill out what they made. There are things my parents did that I can see now were obviously very good financial decisions (hand me downs and used cars) but were never explained to me. I just always assumed we were poor. I realize now that my parents put money into vacations, summer camps and real estate instead of things  My parents never talked to us about money and even though we did chores to gain allowance and got jobs at early ages I don’t ever remember learning about budgets. I knew that a savings account was good. I never learned about credit cards and never learned about interest or loans.

Part of the problem was that I pushed away from them right after high school. I got my first credit card to move out of my parents house. It was an Americ@n Expre$$ and I remember asking the woman on the phone what the limit was, not understanding how that particular card worked. She told me there was no limit [because it’s all due at the end of the month] and I took her quite seriously. When I was 21 my credit was already so bad that I bought a new car at one of those Low Credit? NO PROBLEM!!! places. My payment was $400 a month and interest was over 20% I shit you not. The only thing that saved me from a repossession was a wreck that cost me plenty. My point is that I made some dumb dumb mistakes thinking they didn’t matter and then I spent the next 7 or so years with my hands over my ears, just praying that if I ignored the problem for long enough it would go away. I have debts scattered so far and wide at this point that it feels impossible to gather them all up and start fixing them. Owning a house feels impossible. Buying a car in a responsible way feels impossible.

So I have become obsessed with other peoples finances the way I was once obsessed with other peoples birth stories. Budgets are the new birth plans. Financial blogs are edging out the midwifery ones.

“And then what happened? Escrow? Sounds amazing. Tell me more.”

“Tell me about your multiple checking accounts. Tell me about how you actually pay attention to what you put in to your retirement account. How did you start, how did you know what to do?”

I am sure that I have been in peoples grills about it lately but I just can’t help myself. For so many years I should have been asking questions and I didn’t because I was separated from my parents and surrounded by dumb young people making the same terrible decisions as me. I still fight embarrassment about asking questions because now it seems like all of my people have their shit so tightly together and I want so badly to seem like one of those people. It’s embarrassing to talk about money because while you tell me about paying off that last student loan, my paycheck is being garnished and I can’t even figure out which student loan is causing the garnishment! Which seems like it should be so easy!

Bob and I are working together and working with someone to try to help us fix it but also learn how to stop breaking it. Talking about money is still pretty hard because it implies a two way conversation but listening? I can listen to you talk about your money decisions all day. Tell me more.

Tides

The ocean is too rough for us little kids but the gullies are perfect. Wading and splashing in the pools warmed by the sun getting sand in every crevice. Sunburned nose and shoulders. My cousins and I making dribble castles on our legs and burying each other in the sand. Trying to catch periwinkles, being captivated and terrified of the strange creatures with pink shells that wriggle through our fingers and dig back into the sand.


Spending whole days at the pool. Toes raw from pushing off on the bottom of the pool, racing my father under the surface to see who can get further before taking a breath. Trying to convince the impossibly old high school kids that work there how cool I was by coming up with new jumps and biggest splashes. Eating dinners on patio tables as the pool empties and the sun sets.


My sister and I getting our life guard certification, excited about our first jobs. Sitting in the sun day after day comparing flip flop tans, playing with the camp kids.  Desperately trying “not” to get thrown in by cute boys. Teaching strokes to goggled kids who don’t listen no matter what you do.


Weeks at the shore spent with cousins in the ocean. Body surfing the biggest waves we can find. Swimming out so far I start to scare myself imagining whales  under our feet. Floating on the salt water with the tide until our moms and aunts whistle and wave us back in.


Swim team and then triathlon training. Loud echos in hot steamy indoor pools. Races where the silence of being under is punctuated by cheers coming up for breaths. Swim cap pulling the hairs on the back of my neck. The full body soreness that accompanies using every muscle to pull yourself forward.


Packing for vacation. Taking my son to the same shore to play in the same gullies.

Sitting in the wading pool. Watching him gleefully splash and then jerk his head back, confused by the drops that hit his face. The smell of sunscreen in his hair as he sleeps on me in the shade. Seeing his puzzled looks as his dad disappears under the water and then hearing his squeals of joy as he sees him emerge from the depths. Eating dinners on patio tables as the pool empties out and the sun sets.

​ 

Change

I’m feeling wistful for a change lately. Not driving into the sunset, changing my name and living in a hut or anything, but I stare at friends on Insta and think…I gotta do something to shake this funk.

I have an idea in me for a tattoo but it is going to be expensive and the beginning of pool/ocean/sun/fun season really is the worst time to get one.

I need to start running again, or start a workout regime, or find a new triathlon to start training for. A goal to work towards.

I went to go buy new shoes the other day! Except they were out of my size and had to have them shipped in and I am almost positive that I will have talked myself out of it by the time they get here. The last time I bought shoes was over a year ago and my current flip flops are years and years old but I am not very good at spending money on myself even though it’s not like we are saving the money I don’t spend on myself. The money is still getting spent, its just going towards a vacuum cleaner or baby clothes.

This is the longest I have been at one job (3 years). This is the longest I have been in one house in years and years (1.5 years).

Sometimes growing up feels like walking in a cave. It started out as a cavernous expanse and the further I go, the more choices I make, the narrower the walkway gets. The closer together the walls get until they are pressing you from both sides and it’s impossible to go backwards but you can’t see whats ahead of you. I need to carve a new space. I need to climb up if going forward feels too hard.

I need to buy some fucking shoes.

 

The heat of the moment.

“911 what’s the address of your emergency?”

It’s true that sometimes when people call 911 it is in the heat of one of the worst moments in their life. Sometimes, it’s just in the heat of a moment they THINK is an emergency.

“I need an ambulance, I’m bleeding from my mouth.”

“Okay ma’am I have an ambulance started that way but I need to ask you some questions.  Did anything happen to make your mouth bleed?” (This is code. Were you hit? Do we need to send police as well? Do you have a bleeding disorder or something we need to take seriously?)

“No no, nothing! I was just brushing my teeth and when I spit out the whole sink is red. I need an ambulance!!”

“They are driving to you, they’ve been driving since we started talking. Now-”

“Oh…. oh my goodness…” She interrupts me, the pieces falling together for her. “Do you know what? (Oh my goodness I’m so embarrassed) I know what happened.”

*sigh*

“Ma’am?”

“I, well, I was eating a cupcake earlier and it had red icing. Oh my goodness that’s what was in the sink. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I’m fine.”

I giggle as I hang up the phone and radio to the paramedics that they can cancel the call. I can imagine how embarrassed she was but for me? Those calls are the best.

 

Cold

This winter almost killed me, and I didn’t know it until it was over.


Winter is usually my favorite.  I love the quiet, the sharp dry air that hurts when you breathe it in.  I love decorating for Christmas, and fireplace smells. I have always loved doing outside things in the snow, sledding and whatnot, and even running in the cold is one of my favorite things.

I have to assume all of those things still existed. I haven’t heard or read anything on the internet that says they didn’t, but I didn’t see any of it. Is it cool if I take a moment to put partial blame my baby? This is a safe space, right? Woof, being the parent of a baby when it’s cold outside is the pits. Oli was born in August so he wasn’t NEW new when the cold set in but my point still stands. Winter was full of screaming while putting on layers of clothes (but not too many, lest the baby be catapulted from the car seat!), and then hauling 40 pounds of crap out to the car and then screaming when we are at our destination because the layers are causing over heating.  Rinse and repeat.

I stopped going places with him. I was working in a dark room for four nights and then coming home and being alone with the baby in a dark old house for four days. I was battling Oli’s slow weight gain, breast feeding forever and waking up even when he was asleep to pump. The food I was eating was supposed to increase my supply. The tea I was drinking was supposed to increase my supply. I was fading away, into the dark.

Being married is hard with a baby. Every fight and issue is compounded by the fact that you two now own this guy who is pretty dependent on the both of you. Every “this fucking sucks” is a now a run on sentence of “oh god this fucking sucks but if I left would I take the baby and if I did how would that work where would I go but the baby can’t stay here shit shit shit”. Under the very best circumstances I imagine leaving your baby all night for work would be hard.  When you are fighting with the partner that is taking care of him on those nights it’s even harder.

I realized I was losing myself. I wasn’t running, I wasn’t doing things that I love. I even stopped listening to podcasts because…I don’t know… maybe hearing other people be funny and happy was too much? I didn’t realize how sad I was until some things started changing and it was like the curtain was cracked.

I like to tell myself that most of this was weather related, although this post isn’t about sweeping the hard part under the rug now that the sun is shining. I’m beginning to think postpartum anxiety was is involved. There is counseling going on, and a lot of talking, and the fact that we have the best baby in the known universe is helpful. Plus, you know, writing.

It’s so hard to see it when you are in it. I am working my way out.

DISCLAIMER

The opinions expressed on my personal blog are mine alone.
My opinions most certainly do not represent the opinions or beliefs of anyone else, most especially my employer or any of my coworkers.

Please also keep in mind that while all work stories are based in truth, names and specific identifiers have been changed or omitted. Events are a made up of a thousand viewpoints and voices and these are just mine.

Whether or not to stay in the shadows

I work at night and one of my favorite things about it is running on my lunch break.

Lunch for me can be anywhere from 11pm to 4 in the morning.  It is dark and cool and quiet.

My workplace isn’t in the best part of town and so to ease the concerns of (nosey) coworkers I run in a parking lot across the street from the building.  It’s an event space parking lot, the kind that’s sectioned off by letters on poles that have huge floodlights at the top. Sometimes when I run the floodlights are on and sometimes they are off, I think it just depends on when my lunch is and what events are going on that night.

The lights are supposed to make it safer for me, but I prefer the dark.

When I run in the light people see me, which seems obvious enough I guess. The light is supposed to keep me safe because the good people can see and intervene if the bad people try anything.  The argument is that in the dark no one can see me if I get nabbed, stabbed, or any other horrible thing.  I understand the argument, although running with the lights on makes me way more nervous.

With the lights on every car, bike and person walking on two legs can see me.  I’m an easy target.  It’s easy to throw loud, mean words out of the window of a car at the 30-year-old woman painfully jogging in circles under bright pools of light. It feels like every car slows, and every passerby stares. The good guys may not see me in the dark but the drunk assholes don’t see me either. In the dark I feel lighter, I feel more free.  I can run and not worry about how I look, sucking my stomach in, keeping my head  up. Being in the light makes me a target. Makes me feel like a target.

Writing on the internet feels the same to me.  This blog is the floodlight shining on my dusty desk.  Yes, hopefully it will attract good people who will hold me accountable, but it may also attract jerks.  It is easier to write when no one is reading it, when it is not open to critique.

Except I wasn’t writing. I was fooling myself into believing that clever tweets and thoughtful responses to other people’s writing counted, coming up with excuse after excuse as to why I couldn’t possibly write about my life on the internet. Lately I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter what people’s responses are because when it comes to writing I am my own drunk asshole. Let’s be honest, no one is going to be as mean to me about writing as I am to myself.  So here I am.

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