Category Archives: money

Musing

I have spent a lot of time on this blog not writing about my mom. Mostly it has been to protect her privacy. But I feel now that if I don’t get through this post, all the things that follow without it will be a fraud.

Right now, I’m pretty sure my mom and I are not speaking to one another. It’s been about three weeks since we last spoke, and when she joined Facebook a few days ago, she friended everyone in my family… except me. Having leaned on each other most of our lives – though I am only speaking for myself – it’s not exactly been the best couple of weeks in my life.

If I had to guess, it probably has less to do with the sum of money I wouldn’t lend her and more to do with the way I told her I wouldn’t lend it to her. I probably could have been gentler in telling her no. But I also think I deserved a bit more respect than I got in response.

The details of our argument are not worth getting into publicly. It’s not about taking sides, or getting in the middle. I wouldn’t expect that from anyone. But I think it’s also fair to say that we’ve both suffered a loss, here, and a significant one. And whether it’s real or only my perception, I’ve really felt quite cut adrift from the rest of my family as a result. Maybe I deserve it. I don’t personally think so, but then I’m probably a little biased.

The only thing I’ve been able to do is try to look forward and focus on my own life, the one I’ve been neglecting in my worry over my mother’s well-being. I’ve turned around and realized I’m 31 years old and hey, I’m married, too. When did that happen? To say that Billy and I are reconnecting is an understatement. It’s been wonderful and difficult all at once, and that, I suppose, is marriage.

We’ve assessed our debts and come up with a plan to pay them off in their entirety within the next 10 years. It involves sacrifice and dedication, but so far in the last two weeks, we have made incredible strides. Eating home-cooked meals has helped. Not drinking has also saved us heaps, in more ways than one. Because, yes, I am back on the wagon, and it has been great.

My job is blossoming into a career, and although most days when I get home I need an hour or two to lay in bed and recover from the mountains of stress I encounter at the office, I have to say that it’s a job I do truly enjoy. It’s challenging, and always pushing the bar, and I feel like what I do makes a difference. And, it helps to pay our debts. Right now, I couldn’t ask for more than that.

Billy and I are considering a move in the next year or so. New York City is one of the best places in the whole world, no doubt. But it has a way of churning our souls, and after nearly 15 years, our souls are ready to sit back on our porch in the country and watch bees buzz amid the daisies. Right now, it’s hard to say what we will be able to afford, both financially and emotionally, but a front-runner is Ithaca, NY. We are also looking a bit closer to home, but nowhere specific. It’s nice to finally start seeing plans take shape, though, and to know that we have choices.

And as I think of the family I have lost and potentially lost, between my father’s death and my mother’s illness, I can’t help but think of the possibility of starting anew with a family of our own. It doesn’t seem as farfetched as it did several years ago, somehow.

Even with all these developments on the horizon of my own life, I can’t help but resist the change a bit. It’s always been my affliction – wanting my world to change, but being afraid to actually change it. But, now is the time. As they say, when a door closes, a window is opening. And maybe I’m ready to seize the moment after all.


Weekend plans.

For the first time in what feels like ages, Billy and I both have the weekend off and we don’t have any plans. I almost hesitate to say that out loud, because I’m sure I’m inviting people to offer to fill the chasm. I’m not sure we want the chasm filled this time. It will be nice to stay in the city and do things that only cost no money. I have a feeling we’ll be doing a fair amount of dreaming, and by dreaming I mean planning. Because at this point I think we’ve got our dreams fairly well established. It’s now time to start making them happen. Time to roll out the paper and start making blueprints.

I’m envisioning us walking around in white t-shirts with the sleeves rolled up, sharpened pencils in the front pocket (because all white t-shirts should have a pocket in the front), and visors as we buckle down and make it happen. We’ll both grow some stubble and take out some calculators with long reams of receipt paper streaming out as we calculate furiously. We’ll blare out Metallica to the point that our neighbors have to smoke their whole stash of pot to numb their senses. We’ll get high off the fumes and eat fried chicken and smoke Marlboro Reds and when we are done we will streak down Roosevelt Avenue until we are arrested. When they come to clear out the apartment, there will be news articles about that crazy couple who went mad trying to plan for the future. We will be the coolest people on C-block and we’ll never have to cook our own meals again.

Sounds like a plan.


The Simple Life.

Yesterday I sat down and started doing some serious financial planning. I took a job a little over a year ago with the understanding that its sole purpose was to help me pay down debt faster. Somewhere along the lines I got a little distracted, though. Suddenly, for the first time in my life, I had money! Like, plenty of money! So I went out a lot and bought a lot of beer and went on lots of vacations and bought an expensive computer and an expensive camera, all of which I have loved, but I still have that $54,000 worth of debt in my back pocket, making all of those things weigh extra heavily on my soul.

So I sat down yesterday and started crunching numbers and pounding out a budget. And now for the first time in over a year I don’t have a lot of money at my disposal. But last night I paid off the first of the three student loans that have been tied to my neck for the last 10 years, as well as the bill for the thousands of blood tests they ran when I was pooping blood a few years back, and the depressingly high bill for that excruciatingly painful wisdom tooth extraction I endured in March.

And I’ve got money going into savings, and money going into a health savings account (with pre-tax dollars, thank you!), and enough to pay for electricity and gas and rent and even a vacation or two here and there, and all the rest pouring into those debts. If all goes as planned, I will be free of all debt in 5.1 years or less, the less possibility coming from the decently good chance that I could get promoted sometime between now and then. Of course, these days promotions do not necessarily come with raises (because we’re supposed to just be grateful we get to go somewhere and pound our heads against the wall day after day), but maybe someday before 5.1 years is up, that trend will change.

Meantime, I’ve got no less than 75 different projects going on to keep me distracted from the fact that I’m spending 60% of my income on student debt for a degree I have no intention of using after I’ve finished paying it off. Lucky you, this blog is free and I get to use it to share in my (not-so-) newfound hobbies. Oh, the fun possibilities!


Not bad at all.

Today is one of those days where I just generally feel really good about myself. First of all, you might notice that I’m actually posting something, which means that, yes, I do indeed rock the router hookup! One of these days I might get into the technical specifics of it all, just in case anyone else out there felt the same sense of rage I did. I’ll spare you that for now, though.

After work today, I went for a run outside, which I haven’t done in quite a while, and it was perfect. It is finally starting to feel like spring to me! I even saw a tree with buds forming on it, which to me seems rather early but I’ll take it. The run was perfect – it was about 38*F and overcast with just a spritz of rain here and there. It was cruddy enough outside that there weren’t too many people around but nice enough that I could enjoy the scenery without feeling uncomfortable. I ran along the Hudson with a view of the Statue of Liberty on my way back. At one point a huge flock of gulls took flight in front of the Statue and it made me think how cool it is sometimes to see nature interact with the City. No matter what we do to the land, it’s still the land, you know? I felt like I was flying with the birds.

We got our cruise documents today, and our shore excursion is booked, as well as our 90-minute couples Swedish massage. Oh my god, are we excited. To say we are frothing at the mouth would probably not be an exaggeration. Billy is particularly excited about the 24-hour pizzeria that will be on our ship.

And, I got a raise today. It’s a small little raise, barely a blip on the radar, but it came with a nice pat on the back and a sincere, “wish we could do more but you know, the timing sucks.” Sometimes that’s enough, you know? Made me feel good about my work, even though I go there to drown every single day. At least there are people out there who appreciate my ability to drown with a smile.


Quick update.

As of this moment, it seems I am still employed. In case you were wondering.


And, behind door number 26…

Today I went to class drunk, which is actually as good a segue as any into my rationale for quitting school after this semester is over.

I’ll start with this: Over the last six or eight weeks, I have gained ten pounds, developed an acne all around my mouth that JUST WILL NOT QUIT, and become a lightweight alcoholic. It has been four months since I have cleaned my home with actual cleaning products, and probably two months since I went to the supermarket to buy food which I then prepared in the form of wholesome meals which I then ate. I’m living off of Cheerios and vodka. Which, hey, if that works for you, kudos. It doesn’t work for me.

For a long time I was having trouble figuring why all my life was going to hell. Billy and I were fighting a lot, I think I mentioned the acne issue, and I was having to go commando more than I’m used to on account of we never have quarters around to do laundry. Never mind the fact that there is a bank one block from our home that is open nearly around the clock just waiting to dispense quarters for our dollars.

What it comes down to is this: Despite my superhero powers, I cannot work a job where I actually use my brain on a regular basis AND put in 40-50 hours a week at that job AND take classes at a campus that is 45 minutes away from everything AND keep my apartment clean AND cook healthy meals on a regular basis AND be nice to my husband AND sleep AND do homework AND go to the gym AND watch “Knight Rider” AND maintain any semblance of a social life. I’ve tried it for two semesters now and it does not work. Not for me.

So there is a choice: Keep the job or stay in school. I chose the job. There is a many-fold reasoning to this.

For one, I actually like the job, sometimes. That’s something I have not been able to say for most of my adult working life. The only job I liked more was selling programs at Hudson Valley Stadium for the Renegades, and they’re not in season right now so that is just not an option.

For another, I am getting paid rather well for a job I also do rather well. I’m paying off debt. I have no credit card debt hanging over my head. I’m very close to paying off one of my three student loans. I have money in savings and a down payment on a very nice house actually seems attainable before I die. These are all things that make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. For the first time in my life, I feel financially stable. That is a REALLY good feeling.

For another thing, I have watched people I admire get completely beaten down by teaching. Many, many people, including both my parents and at least seven other people I thought could handle just about anything. Being a teacher comes down to having the ability to fight several losing battles every single day and still get up the next day with the hope that this day you will make a difference. Some people have the personality to endure this, and even win a day here and there. I know that I do not. I take everything far too personally, and I become very emotionally invested in all my work. Put kids into the equation and I think I would not last two weeks before I would either kill myself or everyone around me, and I just don’t think I want to put myself in that situation on purpose.

For yet another thing, although I love art, it was never in my plan to become a fine artist. So, since I don’t want to teach and I don’t want to become a fine artist on the museum circuit, it doesn’t make sense to lay out money to get a bachelors degree when a) I already HAVE a bachelors degree, and b) I have no use for a degree in art education.

And, for the best thing, and the part that has me so excited I can’t breathe sometimes, is that within 5-6 years, I estimate I could be living a debt-free existence in a house that I own, and be stable and solvent enough to start my very own business. And what is this business, you ask? That is the beauty of it all. It is a studio gallery for amateur and young artists, who can come and take independent classes, learn something about art, and maybe even sell their work. I intend to have a pastry shop and wine bar in the corner so that a few nights a week, people could come in and snack and drink wine (or tea, or coffee, or Bailey’s, or whatever) while working on watercolors or sculpture or knitting or whatever their whim. I think this plan suits my personality – I get to be in charge, I get to be an artist, and I get to teach. And what I hope will be the byproduct of learning art is that people also learn something about themselves and their community. That art is a gateway to a sort of self-awareness that can otherwise be very difficult to achieve.

And so, that’s the new plan.

The timing couldn’t be better; tomorrow is the day I find out whether or not I am getting laid off from my job.


is still alive.

About two weeks ago or so, I made the mistake of looking at my site stats, just to see who may or may not be reading this site. And then I got disgusted and stopped writing. Because ok. If I am not writing to an audience, then why the hell put this shit on the internet, anyway? If I’m the only one reading this crap, then I might as well not broadcast it to the world, you know? So, I stopped.

I do know there are a few who do still read, maybe 3 or 4 or even 5 or 6. To you I say, I won’t drop completely off the face of the earth. But please, if you’re in the habit of holding your breath between posts from the old Caitlinator, I recommend you don’t.

ahem.

The general update: I’m fucking tired. The last five days have beat my ass into, well, Wednesday. Tonight is the first time since last Thursday that I have been able to do absolutely nothing if it so pleased me. And, by the way, it did. I got in my annual viewing of Rudy tonight, which is a tradition in the life of me. Football season can really start now.

Classes are going ok. I’m taking two classes, history of photography and intro to painting. I may have mentioned this. Sue me. My memory fades with my energy.

Today’s class centered around landscape photography and I correctly deduced that one of the differences between rail travel and road travel is that when you ride on the train, there are other people with you and when you drive a car, you can be alone. I am fucking BRILLIANT.

I also picked out the Ansel Adams photo from the one that wasn’t. I even correctly guessed the date, which astounded everyone, even Ansel Adams from his grave.

I am trying to like painting, but the truth is, I don’t. It is messy and time consuming and I’d much rather draw. Or sculpt. Or knit. Yes, knitting is fun. I haven’t knit anything since I made those 3,000 dolls for my wedding. Or was it 100? I don’t remember, there were so many.

Work is going well. They have pushed back the announcement date for layoffs, so I’ve bought myself another six weeks or so stay of execution. I’m waiting to see how many more bills I can pay off in six weeks, but it’s not looking too good. Especially since I keep spending my money on travel books for Belize and beer and burgers at the Blue Room.

I’ve actually had some opportunity to visit with some friends I haven’t seen in a while, so it hasn’t all been work and errands and chores for me. I’m so happy for my friends in the Bronx, recently engaged and entirely adorable. They cooked Billy and me an incredible meal that involved chicken, bacon, and cheese, and if that doesn’t show true love then I don’t know what does. Last night I hung out with a friend from my very first internship in college that I haven’t seen in nearly a year and I am so excited because she is possibly falling in love with a Londoner. And although they have only spent four days together in the last nine months of knowing each other, I really believe they have a chance. It’s the romantic in me, what can I say?

I have not seen my husband in days. These are the consequences of being a superstar. And I’m not saying that the superstar is me, either. For the record.

Tonight I ordered a pizza instead of cleaning the kitchen or going food shopping. I did this because my throat was hurting and I decided ordering pizza was better than possibly having tonsillitis again. This is how it started last time, and I do not ever want to feel that sort of pain again.

The bedroom project is still on hold. All the supplies are sitting in a nice neat pile in the corner of the bedroom, taunting me as I turn out the lights to go to sleep. I hear them sometimes, calling me in my sleep, “Paint me!” “Hang me!” in their squeaky barely audible voices. And I just say, “Shut the hell up or I’ll bring you back.” That usually shuts them up.

We’re actually hoping to get some painting done this weekend, and not just for my painting class, either. I have two whole days off in a row where I don’t have to write any papers or do any research or run any races in 99% humidity. So I figure I will paint the damn walls before the paint dries up in the can. And before Billy throws the full paint cans at my head in frustration.

And that, lovelies, is the update. Hope that tides you over till next time I actually have a few minutes with nothing else to do. Which will probably be sometime in early November, I imagine.