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November 30, 2011 / allyo


Last Friday morning our toilet started emptying into our KITCHEN. We haven’t had a functioning toilet since then. (Bonus effect of using cloth diapers – poop doesn’t freak me out as much as it used to.)

We had to have our kitchen cabinets ripped out yesterday to give the plumbers access to the pipes (YAY renting!) and this morning they flushed the old pee in the toilet to see where the leak was, and so help me god, if I have to clean pee water off my kitchen counters one more time I may finally lose it for good.

Deep breaths. Pray this gets resolved TODAY.

October 21, 2011 / allyo

Still here

I have tons that I want to write about but limited time/attention span at the moment. Jamie’s off for a random no-school day so I’ m working at the dining room table while he breaks in his b-day gift from us.

We’re 95% moved. The only big thing left at the old place is the swing set, which is pretty big but the turtles finally made the move this weekend so we’ve been making progress. We love this place and really don’t miss the house at all, although I hate going back there. It’s so depressing. All those hopes and dreams and frustrations and empty houses are sad anyway. However, I really need to take a load of empty boxes and get the last little odds and ends so we can finally be 100% done.

The other news is we’re filing bankruptcy. It was just going to be me. After years of trying to pay off our credit cards (all in my name) through various programs I’m being sued by 2 companies. Now our 2nd mortgage company is acting like they’re going to come after us as well so MD’s filing with me and quite frankly, I’m kind of excited. Talk about total fresh start.

Seriously, this is not what I pictured my life would be at (almost) 41 but I’m becoming ok with it.

September 17, 2011 / allyo

You know how you anticipate something forEVER and then it finally happens and it’s a let down? This move has been the exact opposite of that. There are still loose ends to tie up and I’m going to spend more time at the old house this weekend than I’d like but one week in this little apartment feels like home.

September 4, 2011 / allyo

I blinked…

And the summer WHOOSHED by. More soon, but just popping in to say we’re MOVING! Found an apartment, landlords are great, it’s small but I’m looking forward to living with less stuff.

Now the really hard part is here: packing. Movers come next sat. for the big stuff. I have a friend coming over this afternoon and tomorrow to pack pack pack. MD’s having some issues that are going to lay him up for the better part of today and he works tomorrow so I doubt any furniture will get moved like we had planned. But, there’s a plan B! (C or D or L, maybe?)

Right now I’m focusing on breathing and trying not to panic from…uncertainty? Certainty that this is it? This is the last week in this house? The overwhelming amount of work still left to be done to move us, not to mention that big moving sale we still need to have? The fact that we are making it out just in time – the sheriff’s sale is the week after we move?

I’d say all of the above.

June 27, 2011 / allyo


A couple of decades ago I spent the summer in Urbino, Italy. I studied Italian, drank a lot of wine, made a lifelong friend (Jamie came back from our most recent visit calling her boys his cousins), and had a fabulous affair with a really cute Italian guy. I also learned about a different pace of life, a reordering of priorities, and that eating in the car? Not human (true quote!).

There’s a lot about small town Italy that I don’t agree with. Living with your parents until marriage, studying at the local university because it’s close by, even if it doesn’t offer the course of study you want, and women? Oi, they were several decades late on equal rights.

What I thought I had taken home with me was the idea that life is family, not work. Life is enjoyment, funded by work. While you should always enjoy your work, it should never come first. Family, good food, good wine, afternoon siestas, those are the priorities.

So I came home way back in 1993 and I kept these ideals close to my heart for a very long time. But then I landed my “dream” job. My natural ambition took over. My sense of self became intertwined with the job and my importance to a limited number of political players became everything. I lost sight of the important things in life until my priorities were once again reordered for me. Losing my job was an opportunity that I’ve tried to make the most of and letting go of the house is a manifestation of that.

I don’t want to be driven by yard work, by home repairs, by the need to keep up with the neighbors. Making our home “perfect” consumed me for years and we have nothing to show for it.

I don’t want to work full time in order to finance a lifestyle that causes more stress than happiness. MD’s health means that I am solely responsible for yard work and – more and more – cleaning and I don’t want those things to be my top priority.

This weekend we spent a good part of Saturday at Indian Lake. We came home late that evening smelling like lake water and campfire. So far this summer Jamie has ridden his first adult roller coaster, his first water rides, he’s spent every possible minute at the pool (not many of those yet, unfortunately), and this week he’ll get his first plane ride and his first ocean (Gulf of Mexico, technically). And I’m actually doing many of these things with him. This is the life I want him to have, not one with two stressed out parents who don’t have enough time in the day to get anything done.

I’ve felt guilty about the number of hours I’m working this summer and I’m trying to let that go. Letting go of the house, of the mortgage, of the maintenance and repair obligations is helping. We looked at a place yesterday that is not in our target neighborhood but is at least on the right side of the freeway. It’s small, it’s outdated but the price reflects this and we could make it work.

Letting go of expectations is like peeling an onion. Each time you think, ok, this is where it ends you realize no, there’s more that you can get rid of. And every layer lost can make you feel lighter or more bereft. It’s up to you to choose.

June 21, 2011 / allyo

Lather, rinse, repeat

So, I was really optimistic when last I wrote, only to find out the place I thought was a  done deal wasn’t and I spent about 32 hours being really, really, REALLY mad at the world.

We seem to be in a holding pattern in which we just miss the opportunity to see and/or sign the lease on places. Or, there are the places where we apply and never hear back on despite following up.

We’re all stressed about it, Jamie and I are having anxiety issues, and it’s getting old, old, old. But we keep on keepin’ on.

June 3, 2011 / allyo

Jamie and I had a lovely afternoon at the park today. We picnicked and he played on the playground and we walked through the rose garden. He LOVES flowers. It’s so endearing and cracks me up at the same time. Sadly tree pollen is high so I’m suffering with oogey lungs tonight.

We looked at the place by school tonight. The first floor layout is very much like the place I looked at earlier this week, where our credit isn’t an issue. They even had the front room laid out exactly as I had pictured in the other house. Each has its pros and cons. The place by school has a bit of grass but no garage. The rent is more than the other place even including the extra rent for the 2 car garage. The basement is less usable and it has three bedrooms but the same square footage so they’re all small. But it has a tree in the front yard and the kitchen is bigger. We could be happy at either place and I hope that it comes down to one of the two. I’m so ready to move (although not to pack) and very much looking forward to a smaller house, no yard work, and the ability to walk and ride our bikes to the park. And to get ice cream! 😉

June 3, 2011 / allyo

First & Last


First & Last Day of Kindergarten

From 2010-08-26
From 2011-06-02
From 2011-06-02

Drum out

Jamie’s school has this great tradition of drumming the kids out on their last day of school. Basically, about 20 minutes before the regular dismissal time, a group of older kids gathers outside the main entrance and starts drumming. They then dismiss the kids classroom by classroom, starting with the K/1’s. It was really fun and my only regret is that I didn’t really make friends with the parents in the room this year and didn’t have anyone to stand next to and reminisce with while waiting for Jamie to appear. That’s on my list of things to do starting this summer because Jamie really wants to have playdates with some of his buddies.

From 2011-06-02

Watching the drum out.

Today marks the first day of summer vacation and Jamie and I were both up early. Me, to work. Him, to wait the hour until he’s allowed to start playing wii (7:30). I’m really really really trying to shift my sleeping schedule so that I’m in bed with Jim by 9:30-10 and up early. Today my goal was 5:30 but I either slept through my alarm or didn’t set it properly. I’m having a really hard time getting to sleep earlier even though I’m exhausted. My mind is so full – of possibilities on good nights and bad nights? Pure fear.

On the housing front, we have a real possibility – as in the lease could be signed this weekend – for which the only drawback is no back yard. There’s a patio, a garage, and a strip of dirt on one side of the garage and a strip of grass on the other, which is technically on the other side of the duplex. Then tonight we’re looking a place that is literally a stone’s throw from Jamie’s school. We’re not sure if they take dogs, if anyone else has seen it, or if they’ll be cool with our foreclosure situation. But it’s 3 bedrooms, has a tiny yard an veggie patch in the back yard and did I mention a stone’s throw from school? I’m prepared to pay the deposit tonight and I haven’t even seen it yet!

May 29, 2011 / allyo

A confession

Fw:New Message

Himself, with a freshly cut and spiked mohawk.

The other day Jamie broke one of my earrings by snapping the hook in two. The pair was old and I had acquired it in a workplace swap ages ago and the hooks were worn and I didn’t think much of it other than to ask Jamie – once again – to please not fiddle with my things. Of course, if I really didn’t want him to fiddle with my things I’d put them away instead of leaving them on the bathroom counter, and the earring was quickly forgotten. He kept asking me, however, when was I going to buy a new pair until this morning I finally asked him if he was feeling guilty for breaking them. He was, and I showed him how the other one bent easily and explained they were old and while I would like him to leave my things alone it was really ok and to forget about it.

Around the same time that the earring broke we had a fuse blow. It was puzzling but we didn’t think much of it. Then the next day MD noticed that both the lower plug in the outlet in the bathroom and the bathroom night light were blackened and thought it might have something to do with the fuse. I’ve been having trouble with that outlet, as my hair dryer plug has been falling out of the lower one so I’ve been taking the night light out of the upper outlet every morning when I dry my hair. But I never put the night light in the lower outlet so again, we were puzzled but didn’t think much of it.

It finally all came together tonight when, shortly after I tucked him into bed, Jamie came out of his room and told me he wanted to show me something in the bathroom. He pointed to the outlet and the night light, and through tears, told me he had done it when he had tried to plug the night light back in, not realizing the earring was hanging on one of the outlet prongs. I picked him up and carried him into our room where we both reassured him and he cried and cried.

He’s back in bed now, feeling a bit lighter and hopefully trusting his mom and dad more than ever.

And knowing he should keep the hell away from electrical outlets. I can dream, right?

May 24, 2011 / allyo

Losing the dream

I’ve always loved watching HGTV’s House Hunters. MD HATES the show, HATES it, and I can’t watch it while he’s in the room because he can’t keep his snarky comments to himself. He especially hates the international holiday homes episodes because he thinks the expats (from whatever country) are too picky and expect everything to be their way. Generally, they don’t bug me because I’ve lived, to a smaller extent, that culture shock through my summer abroad in Italy umpteen years ago. But the one thing that drives me nuts is when a couple deliberately goes to a warm climate to enjoy the “outdoor living lifestyle” and then bitches about the lack of INDOOR square footage.  Ayiyi. But it’s a shift in one’s paradigm and it takes a little time to adjust your expectations.

I don’t know how old this report is, but it says that every three months, 250,000 families enter into foreclosure. Here it says 1.8 mil. foreclosure homes – in what time period I don’t know. The point is, a lot of people are having to shift their way of thinking, and do it in a way that keeps some of their dignity intact. You can’t go through this process and emerge sane without realizing that home ownership doesn’t matter as much as we think (thought) it does. I don’t mean on a personal level or an economic one. I mean on a societal level. The American dream – the house, the picket fence, it doesn’t define who we are as people. Sure, it can make life easier. It can bring happiness. But that’s because we’ve decided it should be that way, not because of some universal truth.


Our search for a rental is particularly frustrating because we want to stay in our big urban school district. Not only did Jamie lottery into the school of my dreams last year, but it’s K-8, meaning we get to skip the whole middle school issue. There are a lot of great rentals in the areas where our city and the suburbs overlap and lots of properties that boast “prestigious XYZ (suburban) schools!” and I sigh, and keep clicking.

I remember when apartment complexes with playgrounds were in nice parts of town. Those same areas are now NOT where we’re willing to live, and they’re where we grew up. We’ve talked about what sacrifices we might need to make to stay in this city. We might not be able to take the swing set. MD may have to give up some of his more exotic pets for lack of space. (He even said Maggie could live with his sister for awhile, to which my only response was a horrified face and a squeak, but he’s right.) If we did have to give up the swing set then I would want to live closer in to the city where there are some great parks and walk-ability is high and the population density is higher than we’re used to. I’d want to completely shift our lifestyle. I think this could be a great experience for Jamie but I don’t know. I don’t know HOW important the yard really is, I just know it’s what we’re used to and what the majority of families here have. I don’t know if moving to another neighborhood with no kids plus no yard would end up being a mistake. I think about going back to the days of a little patio for a backyard and it just feels like going backward and I get frustrated because there’s NO REASON why there can’t be a great apartment complex right where we want to live that has a playground and allows dogs. No reason other than we’ve decided, as a community, that that’s not what we want there. We’ve decided as a city that we are about HOUSES, dammit. Affordable housing means HOUSES, not rentals. That’s why we bought our house to begin with! It was cheaper to buy a house than to rent somewhere that allowed a dog.

Dog, kid, damn nuisances, I tell you. Tuck them away in your backyards! (Ok, I’m getting a little punchy.)


Back to HGTV. There’s one show that I can think of that touches upon what’s happening to the “rest of us” in this country. The reverse home buyers – the home losers. This new reality that is shaping us as surely as the post WWII housing boom. Our paradigm is shifting, and what I don’t see is any conversation about the long-lasting impact of this collective experience. Will we continue to live on the edge, the current consumer unwillingness to open our wallets so wide forgotten as soon as gas prices drop again and jobs start to come back (if they come back)? Will we have more compassion for each other, or will bitterness prevail? Will our children grow up assuming that home ownership is the great American dream?  I don’t know the answers. All I know is, you can’t have this kind of personal loss on the scale we’re seeing without a shift. I know we’ll never look at the world in quite the same way again. Multiply that by almost 2 million families and who can say what comes next?