Selling our house? Yes we are!

24 years ago my husband and I bought the house we live in now in northern New Jersey. A small house on the corner, it was supposed to be our starter home. The goal was to work on it and move out in 10 years. Well we did some work and things happened and more work had to be done then the housing market crashed and so we remain here 24 years later.

My husband retires next year and money is beyond tight right now when you factor in household maintenance, the taxes and the multitude of things that can go wrong, it makes sense to sell the house as is and hopefully walk away with our shirts. Unlike others we have nothing extra to rely on. No family and no stash of cash somewhere.

We have almost paid the house off, our claim to fame is that we pay our bills and on time. What did it get us? More debt to make sure the house stayed in good shape more stress trying to keep our heads above water. So moving seemed the right thing to do but after 24 years is such a chore after all.

So the end of April we put the house on the market with a pretty good Realtor. He was optimistic. As is he said, it will sell and for our area it seemed likely. We had a lot of interest. I was fielding Realtor calls daily and sometimes late at night. That and work had me stressed to the max.

We almost had the house sold then the buyer got cold feet after attorney review. Old house = a lot of work go figure. So he bailed and we almost did too.

We pulled the house off the market. Our panic got the best of us. We have no money for repairs. What were we thinking? We talked it out. Hey we could pay the house in less than 5 years and either live in it or sell it then. Or take a construction loan and work on it but do we really want to do this? Well, no, we need to move on.

The house remains on the market and we did do a few minor repairs. Hopefully this will work out this time. If it doesn’t? Well God has a plan after all I’m sure and hopefully we will have another home.

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New job not a good fit.

Well, I’ve been bad about blogging I know but I have a good excuse. I haven’t blogged for awhile because I started a new job over a month ago.

I truly wish I could say I love it and that it will provide me with professional growth  but alas,  that is not the case.  I am 54 years old, a time when I should be into my second act but unfortunately I wasn’t done with my first. This job has opened my eyes. It has suddenly dawned on me in my current state of despair that for all the complaints I had, my career choice (insurance) was, in fact, my passion.

So here I am doing a job that is outside of my field, losing my skills  and brain cells, one  at a time, with a company that is the definition of micromanagement on steroids .  There are strict time constraints and long hours too.  This is not going over well with my elderly mother when I told her I am no longer at her beck and call (the only benefit to this job as I see it)  Doctor’s appointments and unplanned car repairs or illness (mine or my family’s) must wait for those 90  probationary  days to be over and even then it’s tentative at best.

That aside I thought I was doing pretty well.  Accepting my lot in life but then my 30 day review came back  with “critical points to consider” and while I am open to criticism, this was over the top. I’m an “Introductory Employee”, not temp not perm but all employees are treated like children so I do see this is a trend with this company.   My manager is clearly a person  who is trying too hard to justify her position with a person too new to make waves.

So I signed the review and made a goal to “get out of Dodge” and updated my resume this weekend.  I’m searching for a new job in my field. I need the pay check for now so I will show up and do the job and will find a new one hopefully soon.

 

 

Winter of My Discontent

I was born in mid January during a major snow storm in 1964.  My mother likes to tell that story whenever the occasion arises usually around my birthday.  The story has morphed over time but as my mother tells it, she went into labor the day before, the forecast was for snow what came was a Northeaster with 40 mph winds and snow in excess of a foot in some areas, 2 in others.   She and my father lived in a rural area at the time where you drove a distance to pick up milk so getting to the hospital would be a lengthy trip, the snow making it harder.

My father got  stuck more than once but they made it  and the next day in the morning I was born. My mother usually includes in the story, the horrible labor she had with me but what stands out is the snow storm and my father’s cursing the snow as he navigated the winds and snow drifts to successfully get my mother to the hospital.

I have never been much of a winter person. Ironic since I was born in winter.   I didn’t hate winter as a child  but as I got older and had to drive to my destinations, I liked it less and less.  There is nothing that will sour your love of snow than get stuck in a snow drift.

The effort involved in clearing the snow and navigating the roads slowly in the winter seems too much these days.  My husband works most snow storms and as he gets older he hates the winters too.  We both dream of a warm destination for retirement which for me is a long way off and for him a bit closer.

This winter has been the winter of my discontent.  In addition to the cold temperatures furnace problems and high electric bills, I have been unemployed since July.  The reason for my unemployment was the ending of a long term contract assignment coinciding with the care taking of an  elderly parent which is a thankless job in and of itself.

My job search resulted no offers and there was no replacement contract work. So to pay the bills I accepted a  job that requires overtime during a time in my life when  I was hoping to have more free time.  Beggars can’t be choosers as they say and I have been out of work for 6 months with no offers within my industry so when they asked me if  weekend overtime would be a problem, I said no and so got the job.

As I write this I am savoring my last day of freedom.  Part of me wants to run away from all the responsibility but the other part knows that is not an option for me.

A few months ago, I would have said at that second interview that overtime would be an issue that I would prefer to come in earlier and leave earlier instead of working their core hours which puts me in heavy traffic on the way to and from.  But that was then and this is now and right now I need a job in an economy that favors employers and saying that would have resulted in my continued unemployment which is not an option.

The winter isn’t over.  We have milder weather right now where I am on the East Coast  but I am sure the cold temperatures  and snow will be coming back before winter turns to spring.   My new employer asked me at that last interview if I can drive in snow. They were concerned that I may call out in the event of a snow storm and they made it clear that would not be acceptable.  I have driven in blizzards so I told them honestly that yes I can drive in snow.  In my mind I am cringing because I know I don’t want to.  Ah, the winter of my discontent.  And so it goes.

 

Writing in a world of confusion.

This is my first post of 2018.  I realize we are on day 8 of the new year but I haven’t felt much like writing.  It’s not that I have no ideas, I have plenty. Putting them down on paper  or on the computer screen as the case may be is the thing I have trouble doing.

I don’t think that I am that great a writer anymore. I used to be years ago but have somehow lost that flair.  Years in the corporate world and watching the world  we live in evolve into something I no longer recognize has made it difficult to gather my thoughts.  I know that I had an opinion once, that I was not afraid of what other’s thought.   When I find a box of old essays and stories or letters to the editor that I have written in the past, I am in awe of the writer I was the power that resonated in those words in print. That girl….or woman does not seem to exist anymore.

As a teenager I wrote short stories and plays. My papers were given A’s and B’s, my articles were published in the school paper. Now  in my mid 50’s that part of my life has faded away and changed shape,   but  I  know it’s true, that I did write with conviction, because I have a box with a few of those clippings and reports/essays.

My desire to write comes from my father.  He was a lawyer and a talented writer.  He  was politically outspoken. In addition to his short stories and legal correspondence, he also wrote letters to the editor that  resulted in  back and forth battles in the paper.  He was never afraid of what he put in print of the repercussions. He believed in free speech at any cost and he had strong opinions.  Sometimes his children  paid the price in the form of bullying.

So taking a page from his playbook, I wrote putting my own opinion out there with my heart on my sleeve.  Sometimes I was published sometimes I was not.  But times have changed and now I am cautious about what I put out there for anyone to read.

The world is confusing now. It is not a place I recognize anymore.  Free speech is a matter of perspective.  I begin to type but then think the better of what I will put down for people to see and delete it.  I start again only to change the words. in wanting everyone’s approval,  I  don’t see my talent as a writer anymore. I need to get through this to put the words on paper.  Perhaps the talent is only buried.  That remains to be seen.

Tipping the Holiday Anxiety

It’s the most stressful time of the year for many reasons. Tipping being one of them. For the past few years I’ve not been myself, I’ve been caring for an elderly parent and  the stress  manifested itself in a depressing holiday season. I used to be the one shouting Merry Christmas and excitedly giving people a holiday tip or gift with a smile on my face, now I’m anxiously trying to figure out what to give the garbage men and how it will effect our service if I can’t give much. This year has been a financially difficult one.

In response to the downturn in our personal economy we have canceled many unnecessary services and will be downgrading a few more come January 1st. Sad but necessary. We have stopped going out to eat and we haven’t ordered take out in awhile. We make no unnecessary trips to the store and my hair was last cut in September and I color it at home.   I’m going to grow it out for winter.

I’ve eliminated much of the tipping anxiety by canceling services I no longer need but there are a couple left.

With regard to mail delivery   I never know who is actually delivering the mail on any given day so tipping can be confusing.  I’ve left candy and cookies at certain times and a small gift card and  I may still do that if they put the holiday card in the mail box. Most times though they won’t take anything  anyway (policy) which is a bit of a relief this year.

We pay over $600 a year for garbage pick up to a third party company as our town doesn’t provide trash pick up. There are now only two guys on the truck, the driver and the guy on the back. I feel that they deserve our appreciation for the work they do and I always try to give them something.  I used to leave cookies on top of the can but they usually ignored them.  The same with any cards with cash attached to the can. It’s a wonder nobody else took the money. The past several years I’ve been able to meet them before I left for work or when I’ve been home and have given $20 each in a card. The crew that did our pick up for years retired or were reassigned this past year and there are new guys on the truck but they still do a good job.  And although money is extremely tight this year I will tip but it will be $10 each instead of the usual $20.

Recycling is picked up every two weeks by our town but my son takes his recycling to work now so we only fill  half a can. There is only one guy on the truck and I was going to give him something  but I missed him. I’ll  try at the next pick up if I have it.

Other services? Well  we don’t have any and that’s a good thing this year.  I hope things are better in 2018.

Moving On: relocate

For the first 9 years of our marriage my husband and I moved 4 times.    Because we rented we had no ties and thus had the freedom to move when our lease was up.  We did not to have to deal with difficult neighbors or other issues for more than a finite period of  time. We didn’t have many bills back then either so not much to change our address on. Relocation was easier then.   But then we bought our  house and we stopped moving completely.  We became  trapped.

We have been in our home over 24 years now and dealt with catastrophes and problem neighbors with nothing to show for it except declining house values and more debt and more problem neighbors.  Our house is in need of work again and with no money and no motivation to do it we are  putting  a bandages on issues we would normally jump right in to repair. Nothing major mind you but I can’t be certain that if something major were to arise that I would not put a tarp over it.    The story goes: Young happy couple buys fixer upper fixes house,  saves rest for later years,  middle aged couple deals with major repairs that take life savings and equity and only a few years later older couple throws in towel……. and hopes for the best.

I’m unemployed right now  and  my husband is going to retire soon. On his retirement we can afford a modest apartment and one car so it looks like we will be downsizing sooner rather than later if I don’t find a local job.  We will likely not get near enough for this house in it’s present condition but it doesn’t matter.  I  want to walk away, to start fresh, even if it means going broke  to do it.  I  want neighbors that care and bills that are manageable and I would rather rent than own in this downtrodden economy.

So, if all goes well,  in the coming year  we will sell our house, change our address, settle all our accounts. And through a change of location we may find happiness again. But we are definitely renting this time.

via Daily Prompt: Relocate

Knitting a Family

“There you go you’ve got it”  “D” said.  She watched me closely as I learned to cast on and the stitches came together. I was knitting.  I felt powerful. She taught me many things but that was the first.  I was excited.

It was 1977. I  was an awkward 13 year old. She was a fit trim and very professional 33  year old.  She was my father’s second wife and that was the year my brothers, sister and I considered her our step mother.

She was the other woman three years before then.  My mother had always accused my father of cheating even when he wasn’t so it came as less of a surprise when she found her suspicions confirmed.  “D” was the final straw in an already broken marriage. My mother fled across the country and left her 4 children with my father, a man whose temper made him both abusive and unkind.

“D” was a strong woman. Her parents lived through the Great Depression and instilled their values on her She had younger siblings and had worked in her  parent’s restaurant as a child performing very adult chores.  Her family was poor and if she wanted to go to college she had to pay her own way.   She  worked her way through college and became a teacher. She didn’t stop there, she  entered a Masters Program and  met my father while she worked her summer job as clerk in the office of an associate of his (he was a lawyer).  He brought her gifts until she agreed to go out to dinner with him. My father could be charming and to his credit he was persistent. To her credit she didn’t know he was married then. By the time she realized that she would be the other woman, it was already too late she was in love with my father.

My mother was not a stable person.  Her  emotional state had started to deteriorate by the time I was 8 and once she found out about  “D” it was far worse. One day while my father was at work, she packed up her stuff and left us after calling her best friend. I was 12.  Our Grandparents watched us for 2 weeks then my father moved “D” in to take over.

It was not an easy transition for “D” or for us. She was very strict like our father and sometimes unapproachable. she criticized my weight and did not like my attitude. I didn’t like that she was an apparent replacement for my mother or her criticism. My father and “D” had volatile arguments too which usually involved things being thrown at one another.   There was much to be unhappy about in that environment.

But “D” didn’t give up and it wasn’t all bad for me.   “D”  spoke 4 languages, she was a seamstress, she crocheted, knit and she was a coupon shopper before it was a thing. She  taught me more about cooking and making a meal last than anyone else ever did.  She taught me how to survive on pennies which came in handy during the early years of my marriage and is coming back in style now.    I resisted much of what she wanted to teach me. My teenage angst getting the best of me and I blamed her for my mother leaving.  But somehow we connected through knitting.  She bought me my first knitting needles that year and skeins of yarn. She patiently watched me as I did a slip knot and cast on the loops and complimented me on my first finished pattern which was a simple scarf. Knitting connected me to her in a different way than I was connected to anyone else.

When I was  14 my mother came back into our lives but her marriage to my father was over.  My father let her stay in the house for another year and then she moved out into her own space. Since Mom had been the one to leave  us,  my father got custody of all 4 of us and “D” stayed with him a few more years but eventually my father true to form would tire of her and moved on to someone else.  D and my father had been together for 10 years but  had been married only a short time.  I had already moved out of the house by the time “D” left my father for good. I was 20.  I never saw her again.

I didn’t hear much from her after that.  She and my dad had no children of their own, there was no reason for her to be close to us and I think she wanted to leave all the pain of her relationship with my dad behind.  Many of their friends aligned with her and so we lost friendships we had with some of those families.   I kept track of her whereabouts through family members who had some connection through her career. I tried to reconnect  and spoke with her briefly but she really didn’t want to. So like that the stitches  in that scarf that held us together the relationship became unraveled.  Things got busy for me and I stopped knitting. I took up crocheting briefly and gave that up as well.  I don’t know if there was any connection, it’s just that I didn’t feel like it.

Recently I started thinking about knitting a scarf and realized that I could no longer find my knitting needles.   I did have crochet supplies and so began to crochet but I’m thinking of buying some at the local crafts store.

Last month, I read the obituaries and found out that “D” had passed away.   She had outlived her family and never remarried after my father. The Obituary stated she was surrounded by many friends. Some of the names I recognized.   I didn’t cry but I felt the loss.  As soon as I have some money I’ll get those supplies and who knows….maybe I’ll knit  a scarf.

via Daily Prompt: Knit