Friday, August 17, 2007

The Situation

We have been unwise or maybe we were just so caught up in day-to-day life that we let maintenance slide.


Our garage was packed to the point we had only a very small path to get to the washer and dryer. Only half the floor in the hallway was open to foot traffic. The kids' rooms were so crammed with stuff that the only floor space was the minimum needed to open it far enough to squeeze in. One of the springs on one side of the external door broke several years ago (!!!) so it takes one tall person to open the door and hold it while someone else props up the weak side.

The kitchen counter tops were jammed and unusable and the cabinets were inefficiently crammed. The refrigerator was half filled with containers of left-overs - quite a few of them could be classified as biology experiment and/or compost. One corner in the kitchen was taken over by old baskets filled with left-over homeschooling materials, three barely functioning computer monitors, three barely functioning computers and miscellaneous computer bits and tools. The kitchen table was generally unavailable.

I won't even talk about their desks but every time I want to use my computer I have to take two stacks of paper off my keyboard and another stack of stuff off my chair (and that is after the first pass at straightening and decluttering).

A major knot of knitting an crocheting supplies took up the bulk of one end table in the living room. The other end table is covered with books and papers. The huge, yet full, bookshelf has needed repair to its splitting seams for at least a year.

The back yard is completely grown over and was littered with neighbor-inherited folding chairs, a never-used badmitten net from the same neighbors (they moved out three years ago?), and a plastic structure that the kids outgrew about ten years ago. The back patio was covered in decaying sycamore leaves. The Weber grill has been occupied by bees for at least the last two years (it appears to be completely full of wax and (hopefully?) honey. The table a friend gave me in college had finally decayed to the point that the layers of plywood and Formica had warped and separated. The artfully termite-eaten bookcase (not really full of termites - it was the style at some long-ago point in the past) held a few knick-knacks and pots containing dry root ball clods.


The day-to-day obliviousness has, perhaps, had the worst long-term effect on our finances. Even though we are a one-wage-earner family (in San Diego!) we make enough to live comfortably, if not extravagantly. The bills got paid (mostly) but the credit card (only one!) balance built up, not once, but twice to the point where I paid off the balance with money from our home equity line of credit (HELOC), each time promising myself that I would pay everything off every month and not carry a balance.

I knew this stuff but habit, complacence, and - sometimes - willful ignorance got the better of me and I let things slide. I say I let things slide because L. deferred to me in all matters financial, his hands being busy with the day-to-day business of homeschooling the kids and maintaining sanity surrounded by two bored teenagers. Basically, we weren't managing our money and we had the dubious luxury of letting it slide as long as we have.

We ate regularly even if we relied a little too heavily on fast food, too many meals at our neighborhood brew-pub, and on prepackaged food from the store. On the plus side, we do get a box of vegetables every week from our local CSA so we do get some fresh vegetables. In general, though, our diet was bad for both our bodies and our finances.

Internal Pressures

Simultaneously, I've been dealing with general dissatisfaction with the arc of my life. The three solid bits - my family, my church community and my aikido community - are pretty much where I'd like them though my ability to give of myself to them seems (to me) to be ungenerous, at times. I feel as though I am taking more than I'm giving back. I say that realizing that there will be times and that's just how it works. Nevertheless, some discomfort about only taking is probably a good goad to rebalance.

My job situation is a bit stickier. I've let myself slide a bit and with my internal transfer I hope to apply myself and start learning again after stagnating for several years. Still, it is not a bad job but I continue to think about what I want to be do when I grow up.

Earlier in the summer at the UUA General Assembly, I did a lot of thinking about what it would be like to go to seminary and pursue ministry. While it is still a very intriguing thought, I think I may be able to do what I feel needs to be done without a theological degree. It would be a very expensive goal to seek.


So, that's a snapshot of my situation. A fuzzy, under-exposed, poorly-framed snapshot, yes, but it's a start.

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