Saturday, March 28, 2009

My baby is 5

Oh, my goodness, my baby is five. What an extravaganza it was, too. Chocolate cupcakes and Dora the Explorer party favors for 24 little preschoolers. M’s daycare let me bring it all there, which allowed her to have her birthday with her friends. That made it all a lot more feasible, considering we live so far from daycare, and let’s face it – who really wants two dozen little rugrats plus their parents in their house? Not me, that’s for sure. It was a beautiful sunny day and they all got to run around in the playground after the party.

We then had icecream cake and presents at home after dinner, complete with my laptop set up on the kitchen counter so that M’s dad could webcam in and see her open her presents.

I am exhausted, but my baby had a great birthday.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Goodbyes have begun

Maybe it’s because I’ve had to construct my emotional family out of friends. Maybe it’s because I have experienced so many deaths, changes, moves, and loss. Maybe it’s because I am kind of difficult to love and so the people who do love me and even just the ones who are genuinely nice to me and thoughtful are particularly precious.
Whatever the cause, I wasn’t prepared for today. The Goodbyes have begun.

I had my teeth cleaned and checked this morning with my dentist whom I coincidently have known for almost thirty years. We first met when I was interning as a dental assistant in school. She was a vibrant, outgoing, and pretty young dentist with her own practice. She treated her staff well and it was a fun place to work. They were nice to me during my internship and she was a good reference for years. I ended up leaving the Bay Area in 1985, but my parents still knew her and I would hear things from time to time.

When I moved here, and got this job, I found out that not only was she now in this area (quite a distance from where we’d started) but that she was also working part time at the same place I was! (In a different department and employed by a different group)
That was so fun – to catch up and see each other in the lobby and have lunch once in a while. She’s a single parent these days and her son is about to go to Sac State, so she listened with compassion to my stories of M and always has good advice. Having her be here after so many years was such a nice little gift. One of the things that has made being here easier, and the sense of continuity was comforting.

I realized this morning that I won’t be going to her office again. And since she was caught in the massive layoffs that her department just had, I won’t see her here anymore either. We talked about that today and I’m sure that we’ll stay in touch, but it was sad.

There are several people here who have reached out and been wonderful friends to me. These past years, I’ve been so busy and live so far away from work and daycare that it has been a struggle to connect with anything or any one. Yet, there have been those who have been warm beacons of light in my foggy world. I know that they have made a huge difference in what has otherwise been so difficult. It is really hard to say goodbye.

As eager and impatient as I am to flee this place, I will miss my friends.

Monday, March 16, 2009

As the stomach turns...

Friday afternoon the company announced (via email) a “temporary” additional 10% pay cut for the month of April. On top of the 5% they have already put in place.


It is as if this company knows I’m going to break up with it, and is now just behaving badly. What it really serves to do is send the morale around here, which was already pretty awful, spiraling around the toilet bowl. Mondays are generally cheerless here, but today is truly morgue-like.

Fifteen weeks! Yippee!

Good news: the quotes I’ve started to get for the “full service” move I am planning are not astronomical. I spent about $2500 last time, which included the ABF truck, the rental of a U-Haul here, and paying a couple of teenage boys that my mom knew to help unload here, and gas for the U-Haul. With the change in circumstances going back, I am having a professional company do the loading on both sides and the truck driving. I can pack a truck like a pro, but I can’t carry all the stuff by myself, so I am going that route. I was worried that it would cost a lot more, but so far, the estimates are reasonable (I had budgeted for twice as much). Other than the anxiety I will inevitably feel having strangers moving my stuff, the comparative ease of this method will be worth every penny. And everything (nearly) is packed up already and in neat rows in the storage unit.

Ugh, I HATE having a storage unit. I feel like I’ve bought my own stuff over and over again. Almost $6500 for four years of keeping boxes in a bigger box. I got rid of so much when I moved out here; a lot of it I gave to R and I’m pretty sure he abandoned it soon after, but I try to separate myself from the attachment to stuff. I am planning on selling or donating my entertainment center (funny name for 3 massive oak pieces) and my refrigerator, as well as the cherry hutch that was my grandmothers. The pieces are just so big and heavy, and I doubt very much I’ll have space for them. I visualize a much lighter, sparer environment in the future. I’d like to get some simple wood pieces and refinish them and keep it simple.

I want light and space and privacy, the absence of freeway noise, and my own damn kitchen.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pony rides, $4

We had our first “homework free” weekend in a long, long time. It was great. Even with the beginning of Daylight Savings Time, which robs us mercilessly and unnecessarily of a precious hour, it was a relaxing and enjoyable weekend.

It didn’t rain. That helped a lot. We drove down to Sacramento and spent time with our friend S, and hung out in his lovely home for a while, sipping coffee and hot chocolate, and then took off for Funderland! It has been there for many years, and shows it, but for a kid M’s age (almost 5) it was perfect: An amusement park for little kids. As we approached the entrance, we saw a corral with ponies, and M spotted a girl her age riding a horse.
“Oh, Mommy – I want to do that!” she declared, her voice full of longing.
It was a fabulous feeling to be able to say “Ok, honey” and feel zero anxiety about how much it might cost.

When I was a kid, money was always tight. Now I understand that my parents lived beyond their means, tried to pretend they had more than they did, and generally played a grand scale game of Keeping Up with the Jones’. But then, as a little kid, I knew that we children were draining the money out of my father’s wallet, and I was made to feel bad every time I grew out of my shoes or clothes. We were often the only kids who didn’t get to have or participate in something that the other kids at school did. We lived in the Bay Area in the 60s – a time of Brady Bunch suburban abundance. My dad taught public high school and had good insurance. But the other dads worked at Hewlett Packard and Lockheed and Intel. My mother sewed most of our clothes and my play clothes were my brother’s hand me downs. Now, there is nothing wrong with the way we lived, it was the way they felt about it and framed it for us kids that sucked so bad. They wasted a huge amount of energy and money pretending, and my mother worried and complained and I was the one she stressed out around, being the girl; lucky me.

I was never going to make my kid feel bad that her feet grew and she needed new shoes. I was never going to put my kid in the position of being the only kid whose parents couldn’t afford to send me on a trip or something that was part of school. My parents should have lived somewhere else, had fewer kids, or bought less crap, but they always said it wasn’t in their control. Just another of the lies that I learned growing up in that disaster of a childhood.

I’ve worked so hard to have a good job, a balanced life, and a healthy relationship to money. I know what it can and cannot buy. I earn it, I save it, and I respect it. When my baby wanted to ride the horse, all I had to say was “which one?” It felt great.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


It is raining cats and dogs. M thinks that’s a funny saying, and I can’t tell her why we say it, but I think it’s funny, too. One of the fun parts of being a parent is explaining things to a little kid, especially a smart little kid like M. She asks amazing questions. It is always a joy to see how her mind works. I don’t always have a good answer for her, though, and she can get frustrated with me. That part isn’t fun, especially while I’m driving. We spend a lot of time commuting every day. I have her in a great daycare that is half way between work and home, so she gets a half-hour ride each way.

I worry about being on the freeway, but there aren’t very many options here. They just didn’t plan this area at all, and all the improvements have been retrofitted to the bizarre layout that came about from the gold-mining past. I will NOT miss this rain.

Four months of this job left. It sucks so much, it is mind boggling. In the past couple months, I’ve worked on several projects that didn’t go anywhere due to conflicting legislation, poor communication, and changes in requirements that no one knew about. Thousands upon thousands of dollars wasted. The state of California is in such a financial quagmire right now. It will take years to rectify the mess. I don’t have that kind of patience, or the desire to pay crazy out of control prices for things just to avoid snow. That is what most people say when they learn that I’m moving – “but it snows so much in Colorado!” Yeah, and that keeps the population and the real estate prices down. There is a great little elementary school by M’s daycare that I would love for her to be able to go to. The housing in that area costs easily twice what it would in Colorado. Even now, with housing prices tanking, California is unaffordable. The jobs don’t pay better. How do people do it? Twenty years ago I couldn’t afford the Bay Area; how does anyone now? Here is bad enough. My friend S lives in Sacramento, and his neighborhood is nice, but I can't afford it there, either.