Saturday, August 30, 2008
Last night I went to bed at 2:00 am. We were watching movies. Time slipped away. It didn’t matter because tomorrow (well now today) was/is Saturday. Though I had to work at four we could sleep to our hearts content. The kids were asleep and the hubbie and I found ourselves alone. Heaven, pure heaven. We snuggled up on the couch and watched Dan in Real Life.
This morning at 6:55 am the *#!#* dog started barking. I pulled the covers over my head and the hubbie graciously got up to let the sausage out. Thrilled I stretched, rolled over and went back to sleep. Flash forward five minutes - awake again to the blaring of the phone. It was the clinic. The day doctor had a stomach virus and lucky me I got called in to work early. Suddenly I was facing twelve plus hours on the job and working tomorrow too. Spectacular.
If this had happened in the past I’d hit the coffee stand and have the hubbie bring food later in the day. But not today. We both got up. The hub made coffee. I made a peanut butter sandwich and grabbed a box of tomato soup. I also packed up last night’s movies to return on the way. I remain determined to sit with our budget. I will sacrifice for my future self. For retirement. And on days like today I want that future to happen sooner than later.
I am trying to see the positive side of things. I’m pushing away the grump; the one that mumbles under her breath about being the only person who will return 7:00 am phone calls, the one who comes in to work, the one who gets no recognition or appreciation. After all working affords me the opportunity to make extra money. Plus I don’t need a babysitter because my husband is home. And on the way to work there were some amazing rays of sunlight pouring through the clouds; a sight I’d have I missed had I stayed in bed.
And as I drove to work, mesmerized by the beauty of the sky, feeling very tiny in this huge amazing world, I remembered a post from Jen Lemen earlier in the week. She quoted Rumi:
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.
So today I am here. I am awake and I will not go back to sleep. I will embrace each moment and I’ll open that window to my soul, just a crack, and let joy seep in.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Today I gave up a significant portion of my income. I will no longer be the Animal Emergency Center Medical Director. On the advice of a consultant this will become a rotating position; a forum to teach our associates about management and business. I’ve decided not to fight it - the loss of title, of prestige. It’s not you, they say, you’ve done a good job. And yet it smarts. All the work. The paving of the path. The creation of a successful veterinary practice. This is the thanks. This is the appreciation. You will be replaced. No ceremony. No retirement dinner. No sugary confection.
To be honest I don’t enjoy management - fielding complaints, disciplining personnel, drumming up business. But now I will lose not only the title but also $1000.00 a month (not enough given the responsibility). It will hurt. We could use the money. I owe $90,000.00 in student loans. I have a second mortgage used to purchase clinic shares (lucky me I’m a 1/11th owner). Share distributions have been smaller than promised. This working life has been a long and tedious road. I second guess. I should have gone to medical school. I should have been a dermatologist, an oncologist, a writer, a teacher, a housewife. Anything but what I am. And yet, here I sit in this bed which, though it smells faintly of urine, is nonetheless comfortable; this is the bed I made.
We’ve not eaten out for almost three weeks. Today the girls and I walked to the library. I ate peanut butter toast on the way. We brought Cheerios and Go-Gurt. I forgot to bring a beverage. I was thirsty and the drinking fountain didn’t cut it. After great debate I spent $3.50 on an iced mocha. I didn’t think at age thirty-seven I’d debate about spending three dollars. But what if I'd thought the same way twenty years ago? Where would I be now?
Today's activities were free. We walked. We discussed fractions and how to calculate them. We talked about money and budgeting and saving (oh if my kids learn their lessons early!). We checked out books and we played in the park.
Tonight’s dinner was courtesy of my husband. He made kibbi, grape leaves and tzatziki. A homage to his Syrian heritage. It was delicious. Tomorrow we’ll have the same.
This fall the baby will not be in preschool. We’ll use last year’s backpacks (actually they are older still). My ailing danskos will suffice (I now understand my father’s obsession with Shoe Goo). Halloween costumes will be from previous years. Christmas will be homemade. We will not travel. We probably won’t see family. My grandmother, with her depression era mentality, would be proud.
I am nervous. Will our offerings be enough? I do not have a sacrificial virgin. Please let Alexander Bell be right, “When one door closes, another opens...”
Until I find that door, until it smacks me in the face and knocks me against the wall, I’ll sit with the knowledge that though we might have less money - days like today, days spent cultivating my family, will make my life richer than any dollar bill.
I'm late to the party. August is the month to Blog the Recession. Care to join?
Friday, August 22, 2008
Tonight is pizza night. Homemade pizza. This is the lull, the gentle rocking of the ship, the twenty-four hours between night and day shift. I am in a daze, tired, sleep deprived. But we are committed to eating at home and pizza will hit the spot. Prosciutto, roasted garlic, sundried tomatoes and leafy greens - fancy homemade pizza with homemade dough. The dough is easy: yeast, flour, sugar, salt and water - all thrown together in the stand mixer. But the part I love the best is working the dough before it goes off to nap, to rise. Ring off and shirt covered in flour I massage the consecration; stress falling from my shoulders to leaven neonatal crust. I feel useful, old-fashioned, redeemed. It’s as if homemade dough will erase my transgressions. I will be pardoned for working nights. For missing dinners and bedtimes. For not being home to enforce the rules, to instill order. For being exhausted. I am a good mother because I make pizza. Through dough I will be forgiven.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I'm sitting in my favorite chair drinking a great cup of home brewed coffee. My neighbor roasted the beans in a air pop popcorn maker turned coffee roaster. I can't even begin to describe how much better this coffee tastes than the beans I normally brew. The girls are eating organic mac and cheese and are watching Tom and Jerry (i.e. they are not at each other's throats). The boy is out and about the neighborhood - playing basketball, skating on his friend's quarter ramp, dreaming about fishing in the golf course pond that mom has deemed off limits. And the hubbie is sleeping off the night shift. In other words I've found myself a moment where nobody is demanding my attention. This seems as good a time as any to take stock of the past couple of weeks.
What I've accomplished in the past two weeks:
1) We ate every meal in (except for a birthday BBQ at the park which cost the price of a birthday present - still cheaper than eating out).
2) I bought only one coffee shop latte.
3) I sold a camera backpack I don't use on Ebay for $100.00.
4) I sold $35.00 worth of books and movies on Half.com.
5) The house has stayed relatively clean (the hubbie gets kudos here); we've kept up on laundry, dishes, vacuuming, etc.
6) The girl's room has been cleaned top to bottom - drawers and cubbies sorted, items to the goodwill, etc.
7) I went through my yarn collection and started knitting again. Can anyone say hand knit holidays? My poor 20-year-old nephew will have to deal with his eccentric aunt sending him odd knitted gifts (I'm thinking of poor Ralphie from A Christmas Story).
8) To counter my knitting with a touch of hippness (coolness? awesomeness? unsure as to the proper lingo here) I purchased a book Son of Stitch 'n Bitch: 45 Projects to Knit and Crochet for Men. Perhaps I'll knit the boys something they'll actually wear.
9) I bought additional yarn from Ebay and knitting needles from KnitPicks (i.e. good deals).
10) Found some great deals on LeapPad cartridges for the baby. (She has one year left before kindergarten and will be spending that time at home with me. I will be working hard to entertain and educate her).
11) Found some great garage sale deals on 100 piece puzzles for the baby. On our trip we discovered she loves puzzles.
12) Paid off my library fines and put a hold on the last Stephanie Meyer book Breaking Dawn. I'm mildly embarrassed to say I read the first three books while on vacation. They are written for 7th to 9th graders after all. Nonetheless it was a nice diversion and now I want to finish the series.
What I have not done in the past two weeks:
3) Sort through and process all the photos from our trip.
At this point I'm going on the theory that every little bit counts. As I catch up on other things I'll slowly add in those that are lacking. Not bad so far, eh?
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Our summer road trips are over. Swimming lessons are over. My triathlon is over. But school doesn't start until after Labor Day. We have three weeks remaining to fill and believe you me fill them we will. These remaining weeks are entitled: No, really, you were not born in a barn. You were born in a clean and sanitary hospital. Therefore I do not understand why you choose to live in such filth muck!
My husband and I had an epiphany on our last road trip. We need to clean up our lives. Way back in March I wrote about voluntary simplicity. Everything in that post still holds true; we can do better than we are doing. And what brought this on? This reiteration of ideals that we hold true but do not practice? Vacation. That's right. Rest, relaxation and realization.
We took the family to the San Juan Islands. We went by car (gas is still cheaper than flying). We rented a small house for our family of five. We had a tiny kitchen and cooked some but mostly ate out. And let me tell you: food on the islands is great - organic, local and expensive. Couple that with a twelve-year-old who shuns the children's menu. Let's just say we quickly and literally ate through our budget.
So step number one is to start eating in. My kitchen is gigantic compared to the tiny kitchen in the Gnome House (our island base). Sometimes it takes getting away to realize how good things are at home. We've been back nearly a week and haven't eaten out. Outside of the grocery store we've spent $11.00 on food (one latte, two kids milks and one sushi tray from the market).
And if we are going to be spending so much time at home then we've also decided our house should be clean: dishes and laundry done, floors swept or vacuumed, surfaces dusted, things picked up. My husband and I are in total agreement and ready full steam ahead for step two. The kids? Not so much. With all the time and energy expended on arguing they could have cleaned their rooms ten-fold. I talk and talk and talk until I'm blue in the face "...It's my responsibility to raise you as good citizens ... what kind of mother would I be if you were never taught to clean ... don't you like living in an organized space? Doesn't your mind feel clearer? Don't you feel the Zen?" Kidspeak translation, "Wah, wah wah wah, waaaah, wah" in Charlie Brown monotone. Clearly step two is going to take some work.
And step three? We are addressing our financial future by eliminating unnecessary purchases. We will acquire essentials and only essentials. Period.
And finally step four - we will eliminate all the non-essential crap we've allowed to accumulate in our lives. Thus far we've taken eight garbage bags full kid stuff to the Goodwill and there's more to follow. There are Christmas presents from two years ago still in their original packaging! That is just not cool.
Our hope, by turning over a new leaf, is to secure not only our and our children's futures but also to do our little part in securing the future of our planet. Wish us luck!