31 October 2009

Suffocation

I know it's been awhile since I've updated. I wonder how many blog posts have started out that way. So apologetic, so full of excuses. Well, here's mine: I've been very depressed lately and haven't done much of anything. I suppose it's no better than any other excuse, but it's all I've got and it's the truth. So here I am, 12:32am on Oct 31/Nov 1, blogging. I may even make it to the official release of daylight savings time. I hope not, 1.5 hours is a long time to blog. Anyway. I've been very depressed about finances. There is such a fine line between debt and savings and such a complexity between the amount of debt and time spent paying it off. After a week of depression as a result of intense stress, I've shot my health to hell, but after making a realization a few minutes ago, I hope I am on the brink of recovery.

Before I begin, there are two things you should know. The first one is that I found a job. It is a real-world, career-geared, entry-level position. The second is that I am not currently pregnant, but I am eager to start a family. So much so that it is become painful for me to hang out with friends who have kids. PS, my job pays slightly less than Matt got paid at his real job in Michigan and our expenses are significantly higher down here, even with a decreased quality of living.

Okay, there are four major issues: what to do with the trust money, when to have kids, how long to work once we've had kids, and how much debt to take out. Matt and I sat down tonight and made a game plan: invest 1/2 and live off the other 1/2 of the trust money. Be open to conceiving this spring and giving birth in the fall, work until we have the baby, see if my employer will let me be part time, contemplate full-time motherhood, and take as little debt as possible. It sounds simple, but is much harder to live. We are talking bare-bones skimping. Cutting Internet, phones, eating out, movies, etc. We don't do much of those last two anymore, but the occasional opportunity to do so is very enjoyable. Possibly not going home for Christmas. Not just for a month, not just for a summer, but FOR THREE ENTIRE YEARS! Think about where you want to be in your own life in three years, what will you have to do to get there? How much money will you spend between now and then? Now imagine that you live in one of the most expensive cities in the country. How did your spending change? I am so stressed out every evening thinking, planning, reworking numbers. I've never lived paycheck to paycheck, Matt has never lived paycheck to paycheck. But unless I work full time for the entire three years, that is unavoidably what we will do, it's just about whether we have to pay back the paycheck and how long that will take.

I'm suffocating. Suffocating under the stress of not knowing where my money will be coming from, or if it will come, during the next three years. My chest feels tight, heavy. I feel too depressed to move. Even in my most angsty of teenage years (and trust me, I had some nasty ones), I have never had such an uncertain future.

Anyway, I realized tonight why exactly I'm so pensive over the debt load question. It is because it is my fault we will need the money as I will be the one bringing a baby into the financial question. Babies need full time care, full time care=money (be it daycare of my quitting work), money=debt. We want as little debt as possible. Having a baby/debt will mean that Matt has to work long hours at a hard job, saddled with all his debt, spending 15-20 years paying it off. And it's all my fault. It's my fault I never see my husband. I did it to him.

I understand that some of my logic is flawed. I didn't say this is how I accepted reality, I said this is how I feel.
This is how I feel.

Realizing my rationale is a bit of a relief because I finally know where my feelings are coming from, but it is also scary because I see the only satisfying option as being that I work at my new job full time for three years and we don't have kids. Sounds simple, right? Sadly not. For some reason, for a few months, I have been unable to stop thinking about having babies. I want a family so badly that I can't stop. I have even prayed that God will take away my burning desire, but it is no avail. I do my best not to feed it, but when I try to tell myself I don't want a baby, I become angry and bitter inside. I am surprised at the voration of my own feelings.

Anyway, having realized my feelings of intense guilt of Matt being overworked, I felt the need to blog, stronger than I have in a long time. When people say an experience was hard and that they struggled to get through it, they are always speaking from the position of someone who is on top, someone who made it. But right now I am living those dark nights when daylight feels days away and the light is running out. I need to pray more. I desperately need to go to adoration and pray. But I am scared of the answer. I am more scared of the answer than of suffocating.

19 October 2009

Making Friends

Well, another fun Law Partner's Ladies Night and a half dozen new Facebook friends. Whereas the last party was a meet n' greet, this one was a game night. I enjoyed myself, met some new people, talked to some I met last time. A few of us even arranged to go out for drinks sometime soon. While I'm not calling up any of them to chat during boring afternoons, I'm stoked to finally be meeting some new friends!

In other news, the weather granted us a two-day reprieve. Since Saturday night, the temps have been cooler (60s-70s range), with low low low humidity and a strong cool breeze! While the beauty promises to end by tomorrow afternoon, I'm excited for the few days I've gotten to open the windows and air out this stuff apartment.

I know this is a fairly boring post. For some reason I have been inexplicably exhausted for the past few days. Who knows.

16 October 2009

No More Seasons

Having no money and knowing that it will never really be winter is really starting to wear on me.

On the former account, I job hunt to no avail. I have heard a couple of nos, but mostly I don't get a response, even to my follow-ups. Oy. With regard to the later, I find it so strange that October is half over and I am still in shorts and tank tops. We still run our a/c 24/7. We still need to. I still wear tons of sun screen, sweat when I'm outside, and plan my errands for the late evening. I am dying to pull out my jeans, sweaters, scarves. I LOVE autumn, I LOVE jeans and cozy sweaters, I LOVE hot chocolate. I like my temps in the 40s-60s. I like my days cloudy and my nights clear. What can I say, I'm a cold weather girl.

It all culminated when my last VS catalog arrived a few days ago. I'm a huge Victoria's Secret fan (no, not the sweat pants and "PINK" shirts, but the actual clothing--usually you can only find the clothes in the catalog and online. I also, of course, like the wide selection of bras and underwear). Anyway, they have tons of cute new stuff out, lots of sweaters, long-sleeved t-shirts, and CUTE jackets! But not only do I not have MONEY to buy ANYTHING, I also don't have any need for WINTER clothes : ( During Florida's winters, I'll be wearing my fall clothes from Michigan. And with the highs reaching into the low 70s in December-Februrary, I doubt I'll even wear a coat most days.

I hate Florida. I hate how far away from all my friends and family I am, I hate how hot it is, I hate how many bugs there are, I hate how it's always sunny all the time. There are only two things I don't hate about this ridiculous state and this absurd city: the beaches are beautiful, and my husband is here.

15 October 2009

More Bugs

I hate bugs. Not like a blood-curdling fear, but more like a get OUT of my HOUSE kind of aggression. As I chronicled before, Florida has some bug problems. That's what happens when people build a city in a swamp, I guess. Lots of bugs. Anyway, today I was cleaning and a nasty scorpion-like bug darted across the foyer. He was about 2 inches long, stood high off the ground (that's how I knew he wasn't a cockroach from afar), and his tail curved over his back, the end forked like a snake's tongue. He was a dark reddish-brown in color. I've got a question up on Yahoo! Answers to try and figure it out. Disgusting. Every time I see a bug, it just makes me clean harder and more frequently. As it is, my apartment gets a thorough scrubbing twice a week.

Anyway, my husband has been staying late at school lately. Not a lot, just by a few hours. He needs to use some resources in the library for a project. He always gets home before dinner, but I am lonely during those few extra hours alone. I am practicing my Spanish and working on some Christmas presents (I'm big into crafting, especially knitting and crocheting).

12 October 2009

Isolation in the Swampy

I hate living so far away from everyone I know. No family, no friends; it gets lonely. I am determined to meet some friends.

11 October 2009

Keeping Busy

Remember back when I was talking about things I do to keep myself busy? Things are changing, so I thought I'd update.

I was taking a "get to know your digital camera" adult-ed class that teaches people what all the different buttons on a camera mean. Anyway, the class was six weeks long and ended on Tuesday. So now I need a new class. They start the last week of October and run another six weeks. I am torn between taking a creative writing class and a Photoshop class. The PS class would teach us PS3, but I own PS2, and I want to buy (eventually) PS4. It could come in handy with doing freelance work (which I did for a few years back in Michigan), but I am not planning on expanding my freelance work. Hmmmm. I would rather take creative writing, but I wonder if PS would be more helpful in the job world. Matt votes for the former.

I still have my gym membership and have been going regularly. I am motivated by the changes I see in my body. I am hoping that by Christmas, I'll go home looking like a true Florida girl!

A Rosary making group is starting up at Church. Meetings start next Tuesday, so I am looking forward to that. I joined such a group during the summer of 2005 while I was home from college for the summer and I enjoyed it.

I'm still a part of the Law Partners, which doesn't meet regularly, but I went to Ladies' Night and the Mock Class.

Things I've Rejected:
I haven't gone to a meeting for the Naples Knitters yet. I just have a feeling that all the members will be too old and stodgy for me. Plus they met in a bookstore called "Books-A-Million" and I am VERY picky about my bookstores and don't like that store.

My church is looking for crafters for a craft bazaar next month. I haven't volunteered because I am trying to make some Christmas presents for family right now and don't have time for any extras. A girl can only spend so much time crocheting, you know what I mean?

They also need Religious Ed teachers. I've taught 4th grade before and they're looking for 3rd graders. I just don't feel prepared to handle the large class size that my church has, plus I want to get a little more established in the parish and start to meet some other people before I start trying to mold young minds.

Anyway, I'm still bored during the day, but it's nice getting out in the evenings.

09 October 2009

Mock Class

Torts class last night was great.

Yup, I'm talking about the Mock Class. My favorite subject + Matt's favorite prof, so it was bound to be a decent night. We talked about Garret v. Daily, which Matt had already told me about back when he first read it. I was amazed at how specific the language needs to be in law school, every word needs to be precise, exacting, perfect. What I found more interesting was how much more involved I am in Matt's law school experience than are most of the other wives. For example, I'd already heard about this case from Matt, the other girls I spoke with hadn't. They said they don't talk to their husbands very much about law school. I was amazed! I get a play-by-play of each class, I know what he does on lunch, what speakers he hears, when his clubs meet. I know when he'll be home, which classes he has on which days, what times they are. I can understand those women with children, how it would be difficult to be so involved, but several of the women I spoke with were newly weds. When Matt and I were newly wedded, we were practically joined at the hip! I suppose I got an inkling of how/why so many marriages end in divorce. Hello, girls, COMMUNICATION!

Anyway, back to law school. After class ended, the "parish priest" (one of them), gave a talk on "How to make a marriage thrive during law school." It irks him when people say, "we survived law school!" He started by saying that a marriage shouldn't just survive law school, it should thrive as a result of the struggles that the couple endures together. He also outlined a step-by-step approach:

1. Pray as a couple
2. Eat meals together
3. Take Sundays off
4. Include some romance; ie, have date nights, celebrate the holidays

He advised people not to "save up" their grievances, but to deal with issues and problems as they arise. He also supports the idea of not going to bed angry, of kissing goodnight, and of saying, "I love you."

After Fr. Orsi came a student panel of three married couples, a 2L, a 3L, and couple 5 years out of law school (alums). Of course the issue of balance between kids, money, and life while in school arose. Once again it was reiterated that government assistance is available, which is how several other couples we've met handle health care costs. In sum, they said that having kids is tough, life is expensive, but it's worth it and it makes the student more responsible and a harder worker in the process.

Matt and I resolved to pray harder about when we should have kids.

On a side note, when we were waiting for class to start, Matt chatted with Fr. Orsi and his prof a little bit, which made me excited: he is already networking, forming a relationship with these people outside of class time. Not only will this help him find a job after law school, but it'll help him do better while in school, since he'll feel comfortable seeking advice if he needs it.

07 October 2009

The First Late Night and the First Bday Challenge

It's only Wednesday and we've already had a challenging week! On Monday, we had our first late night. Our previous late-night record was only til around midnight or just before. Matt had tons of reading left, so we decided to "crank it out." I prepared Matt some popcorn and potato chips (necessary studying food), filled up his water bottled, and laid out his highlighters next to his book. We brushed our teeth and Matt sat down to study. I pre-made his lunch for the next morning, cleaned up the apartment, then sat down to read my own book (pleasure reading, of course) until he was finished. But Monday was different. On Tuesday (yesterday), his first writing assignment was due: a closed memo. He had finished it around 8pm and wanted me to look over it. Well, I found a few bigger problems (including a case he cited but never explained) and it required quite a bit more effort than the hoped 10pm bedtime would allow. He was already at the page limit before explaining the missing case, which led to more necessary revision. Not to mention that legal writing is VERY different than the traditional 5-paragraph-essay style, which meant progress was slower and needed more editing. I gave up around 11pm and went to bed, Matt said he was close to complete. He ended up hitting the sack after 2am, at which point, he said, he couldn't process any more. We woke up early: 6am and he did some more revising. We were tired, but he submitted it on time: 15 minutes before the deadline. Phew!

The obsession with the memo meant that he had little time to devote to reading for his classes. Tuesday would have made a great catch-up day, right? Unfortunately not. Yesterday was my birthday (23rd!), our second as a married couple and our first in law school. Matt's birthday was easy as it fell on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. We were able to take tons of time off to have fun. But yesterday was a little different. Not only were we tired, but Matt left for school early (to finish the memo), and had to stay late. Plus I had my for-fun class in the early evening. We finally got to celebrate around 6:30 with dinner, then back to the apartment where he still had to wrap my gifts. After I opened them, it was back to the books. Needless to say, he hadn't even finished the reading for one class, let alone three.

My poor husband won't even have time this week to catch up! Thursday night from 6:30-8:30, we're going to a mock class hosted by the Law Partners at the school. The evening includes, of course, a mock class for the spouses, talks by one of the school's priest, the dean's presentation, then some hors d'oeuvres. The weekend? No! On Saturday we were planning on celebrating my bday, since Tuesday was so limited, although I think we are going to have to trim down Saturday and give Matt some more study time. Oy! This week is posing a lot of challenges. I really encouraged Matt to work hard last weekend, but he was too easily distracted by the Internet, primarily ESPN.com.

This weekend will be difficult. I am not sure exactly how he is going to cope. Too much work, too little time.

My game plan is to give him plenty of peace and quiet, encourage him to get back to work when I see him surfing the web, and keep an eye on his study schedule so that I can prod him to stay on track. We'll see.

05 October 2009

Money

Hmmm...Well, while I know that I don't have a large readership and that this blog is mostly a way for me to communicate my thoughts, even if only to the future me, but I do want to be honest to the ideal reader I imagine in my head: a young wife about to embark on the hell that is law school. My biggest fear was and is the money issue. So, presumably that is my ideal audience is struggling with these fears as well. I want to address the issue and my approach to it as honestly as possible without revealing too much personal information, which would violate my sense of boundaries and cause me to delete this whole blog (long story).

The Theory
This is the principal I try to think by:
When it comes to the grand scheme of money, we have a plan sketched. We know how much money we spend per year, how much we need to be bringing in, what we need in a six-month emergency fund. We have a minimalistic and generous budget (the generous, for example, has an entertainment section for movies and dinner, a larger food budget for steaks and desserts). And we are aware that the future is never secured. By knowing what you need, you know for what to strive.

In regard to the small details, the short-term, of money, we have a budget etched, we know exactly how much we can spend on groceries, clothes, etc, to stretch the little money we do have. By knowing what you have and what you need, you'll never be surprised by a lack of funds.

The best plan, in my opinion, is to keep yourself rich by keeping your wants few. That is the best way to keep money in your pocked (and a clutter-free house!).


Our History:
I was blessed enough to have parents who were able to pay for my undergraduate degree and I was responsible enough with a credit card to come into this marriage with no debt. I also had no problem spending money and buying myself nice things and therefore entered the relationship with naught but a couple thousand to my name.

My husband had some undergrad debt, but it was paid down a fair bit and was a little over $10,000 by the first day of class (when they went back into deferment). He was also miserly enough to have secured a decent savings, especially for such a young man.

We have a few investments (a couple thousand in gold and silver, depending on the market), a few hundred in stocks (which has since grown), some bonds, some foreign currency.


Our Money Situation
Because of Matt's generous scholarship (free tuition), we have a huge weight taken off our shoulders. We still applied for loans to cover books and the cost of living. This is our only source of income. Thanks to our budget, we can make the two semester loan checks last all twelve months. Life will be scarce and that does not include health insurance (we're working on getting some, but it's not here yet), trips back home, or Christmas presents, for which we'll depend on our savings. If I never get a job, we will live loan check to loan check with a small, dwindling net below us. We'd end law school broke, but not homeless or starving.
Thankfully, we have a few other sources of money. Long story short, Matt's parents have family money set aside for the kids that they are passing down now. That money will take a while to get here, but when it does, we'll have a nice, medium-to-large sized net below our loan check trapeze wire.
We also have the option to take loans out from the bank and/or government and smaller loans from our parents, should we come about a hard situation.

A Job
A modest job, one that offers $8-$12 an hour, will offset the amount of loans we need to take, which will put us in a prettier financial position come graduation, some debt, but some savings. A nice job, $35,000+/year, would remove our need to take any loans and allow to us pay down the loans we have taken and Matt's old school debt. See the advantages of having a job? We'd end law school nearly debt free and have a respectable savings.

Tangles
The twists in our delicate web arrive in the form of a baby. If we do have a baby and I'm haven't been working, that nice net disappears just as quickly as it arrived. Expensive health care (being pregnant is a pre-existing condition, didn't you know?), not to mention all the toys, diapers, blankets, clothes, etc, that come along with a baby. If we have a baby and I'm working, we'll be faced with different challenges. We both don't want our kids raised in day care, so I won't work full-time. But if I cut back to part-time, we'd still need a babysitter and we don't have any family down here to help. And enter stage-left day care costs. Plus, I am still leaving the baby in the hands of strangers for 20 hours a week. If I completely quit, depending on our savings, we might have whittled our medium net down to a small one.

I feel like I should draw a diagram flow chart, just to help myself understand all of this.

Well, I don't have a handle on it, I can't draw this post to a fancy conclusion with a bit of advice at the end. I can simply pause here and say, so that's where I'm at. Strings, tangles, webs, and all. I'll let you know where I shake out and what I hit on the way down.

Thanks for reading.

03 October 2009

Revisiting "Old" Fears

A while back, I posted about my fears with the impending law school. And while we are only just beginning them, I thought I'd revisit the issue to see how the fears have changed now that we've actually started school. The italics are from the previous post, the normal sentences are my current takes.

My husband will meet some intelligent, sexy female law student and like her more than me
I'm am still worried about this, but I have not found any evidence to support me.

I am too selfish and will demand too much of his time; he will fail school as a result
Actually this hasn't happened yet. I do demand too much of his time in short spurts. I'll just blurt things out, or ask questions without realizing that he is in the middle of reading something. I'm working on it though.

I won’t get a job and we’ll have no money
Um, yeah, I think my loyal readers all know how true this one is.

Being a bit of a academe myself, I will be too jealous of all the graduate-level students around me
I am struggling with this so badly right now. Especially because I have nothing to do in my life and I was accepted into an MLIS program that offers 100% of it's classes online. I figure once I get a job it'll lighten up.

So, those are all the fears I listed. I think I have a new one to add, after my whopping one month and four days worth of experience: That Matt won't get good enough grades to be in the top of his class and therefore get the internships he wants. It's not his fault, you wouldn't believe the amount of homework he gets. That is, unless you're a law school wife too : )

Now that I've revisited them, I feel like I need to go somewhere with them in order to bring this post to a conclusion. But I think the key is simply understanding what they are and whether or not they're rational. One usually can't do much to stop fears, it's simply a matter of reacting sensibly to situations instead of on the basis of the fears. Since I am able to point directly to my fears, I am not at as much of a risk of falling to them.

01 October 2009

Growing Pains

As law school continues, my husband brings home more and more stories. Class, classmates, laws, new views, opinions, thoughts, experiences. When he first gets home, he's usually excited to share them with me, and I sit patiently, listening to his day, class-by-class. I'll listen intently until he brings up a name I don't recognize or a case I don't remember. Wait, I think, is that the guy who sits behind you? Or the one with three kids? Was that case the one from Property about trespassing? Or was from Torts, with the lady with the odd injury? I feel bad that I don't remember, maybe I'm a bad wife, I wasn't paying close enough attention before. Eventually I'll get so lost in the story that I have to ask him to back up and clarify a few details. Oh, that's right, he'll say, I never told you about that case. At the end of the night, after he's told me all about his day and we're crawling into bed, suddenly he remembers this one other thing his prof said and he tells me about it. It's all these moments that make me want to run screaming back to Michigan.

No one else can understand what Matt is going through besides his classmates. As close as we are and as much as I know about his life, I am still not sitting in class with him. I don't understand the flaws of his professors and I don't understand the jokes that follow them. He will always have something in common with his colleagues that he won't have with me, no matter how close my attention is to his stories. When we talk to family and friends, he will bring up stories and cases that I have heard of, that I don't know. And that scares me. As I mentioned before, I am worried that he is going to find some sexy, smart law school girl with whom he connects on that level and he'll prefer her over me.

I need to be more confident in our relationship and I need to be a less-jealous person. Maybe this is one application of the blog post my law school guardian (see the end of the previous link) made in my life of me needing to become a more virtuous wife.