Life in 409

This blog is about my quest to declutter my apartment. It focuses on clutter, decluttering, and the endless quest to separate the junk from the important stuff - at home and in life.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Beautiful Mind

My daughter is smart. My son is smart too, but I am only realizing now just how smart my daughter is. Since J was always advanced, and S is three years younger, it seemed natural that she was always a little behind him. But now that she is 7 and reading - nay, DEVOURING- books on her own, it is easy to see just how intelligent she is. And I'm so proud.

Of course, I was smart once too. I got told constantly, through elementary school, how smart I was. Back then I was always jockeying for position of "smartest" with a boy, Tony, who was my friend and rival... but I knew I was smart. I loved to read (still do) and was a fast reader (still am). I got 100s on my tests. I got honors. I won the spelling bee (though not the science fair - never liked science).

And then I went to Junior High. I was still smart, but there were other smart kids. And I got lazy. And in High School I discovered friends, and hanging out, and music videos... and I was still smart, but I was too cool to let people know. I got good grades when I wanted to, and bad grades when I didn't. I slacked off, but managed to ace my standardized tests (Regents, PSATs, SATs). I went to a great school but did not get into my top choice. In college I was happy, I loved my friends and classes, but I got lazy in pursuing a career.

And here I am today. I'm in a mediocre job, where I'm not even important enough to be kept on the payroll full time. I still love to read but I'm not doing the great things that I'd guess my mom & dad expected from me as a child. And I wonder how to keep my son & daughter (and the tiny terror, when it's time) from falling into the same trap.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Where have I been all my life?

A lot has happened here in the last six months. A lot of nothing. Let me give a quick rundown.

In late August, I was told by my boss that on September 1, I would be cut to part-time -- working 3-day weeks for 60% of my usual pay. The upside was I would keep my benefits. It came from above my boss's head (they actually told him to cut someone and he talked them into the part time deal) and it was supposed to be temporary, but my boss made it clear that if he were me, he wouldn't waste any time looking for something else.

I have been doing that, with no luck. Some people would say I'm being too choosy and I should just apply to any- and every-thing. But I don't want to be stuck doing something I hate for a company I hate (well, I'd do one or the other, but not both). And I need enough money to support my family. Others are saying that the hubby should get a job to supplement things. And yes, maybe he should. But he's been out of the workforce for 13+ years and whatever he is qualified to do right now probably won't help all that much. I feel responsible and yet I'm getting nowhere with sending out my resume.

I have been daydreaming about returning to school for a complete career change. I keep thinking about nursing. (Not breastfeeding, ACTUAL nursing, as in, being a nurse.) I just don't know how it would be feasible because I NEED to work full time... I need the money. How could adding school be possible? Still... a plan is forming and even if I can't swing it now, I may be able to swing it one day. People do it all the time.

But anyway... it's been 6 months. SIX MONTHS of me working part-time and you would think with all this "free time" (ha), I would have everything else in my life under control.

But... not.

My boss has been very flexible with my schedule, allowing me to take the days when I need them, as long as my hours add up at the end of the pay period. I managed to stack December so that I was off most of the week my kids were home, and I am doing the same for spring break. But the back and forth, the off and on, it gets to me. One month I decided to work half-days the entire month, to see if that made me feel less crazy and more organized. It didn't. Working 9AM - 2PM with an hour commute each way really didn't feel like part-time at all -- it felt like full-time for part-time pay -- so I went back to 3-day weeks the following month.

As for the apartment sale... well... I didn't tell my realtor right away about the part-time thing. I was counting on the fact that by the time we'd get an offer, I'd be back to full-time, either at this job or another. Didn't work that way. In December, since we weren't getting offers, she pressured us to lower our price. We did, even though we weren't happy about it. In January the offers started coming in, albeit at the lowered price that we weren't thrilled with. And we were down to the wire, with pressure from the realtor to accept an offer, so I called up a mortgage broker to see what we could realistically afford on my greatly lowered income and...

The news was not good. We have excellent credit and we would make a profit from the sale, but that is not good enough these days with the tightened lending restrictions. Our new expected housing payment would make our debt-income ratio enough to squeak by with the banks, but not for the amount we need. If we bought a house, we could not afford something big enough or in good enough condition to be worthwhile. Buying another (larger) co-op would cost less, but we would never pass the co-op board, which generally requires an even lower debt-income ratio than the bank.

So after much back and forth and internal debate, I came clean with the realtor and we took our apartment off the market. And I cried for 2 days because it was a huge blow to me.

I tried to convince myself we dodged a bullet. After all, we weren't thrilled with the offers to begin with. They were definitely below what we expected, even in this crappy market, and maybe it is better to step back for a year or two until things improve.

Except... now we're back stuck in this little crowded apartment... and because we don't have the pressure to keep it cleaned up for showings... it is even worse than before.

And my free time slips away day after day and I'm still getting nothing done. Except...

  • Spent time in the park and playground with my little terror
  • Took naps
  • Started organizing my very disorganized photos and albums
  • Did a few focus groups and extra mystery shops
  • Volunteered at school picture day
  • Had lunches with my hubby, with an old friend, with myself, with my little terror
  • Hung out a little, here and there, with my older kids, when they weren't too busy for me
  • Spent most of Christmas week home when the kids were home
  • Spent too much time on Facebook
  • Did dishes, folded laundry, picked up toys over and over and over and over and over (how do you SAHMs do it?)
  • Watched too much Law & Order
  • Cooked (sometimes)

What I should be doing is cleaning, decluttering, organizing, painting (walls, not art), writing.

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