Sunday, January 16, 2011
A NEW-OLD CHAPTER
I hate my lack of stick-to-it-ive-ness; I started this blog a few years ago and tried to keep it as a bit of a journal; didn't really work. I used to keep a real journal; I wasn't very consistent with it either. The bad part is coming back to it and realizing how much you've missed; how much you should have written down; how much you'd like to tell people about the past goings on in your life. Well, I'm not planning on "catching you up" in this entry. I'll add things, here and there, to fill in the lost times when I feel it necessary. For now, I'm going to try and keep up on this thing.
I'm sort of starting a new chapter in my life, both out of choice and necessity. And, it's sort of an old chapter, too. I have completed 90 credit hours of college studies, which is about 30 short of a bachelor's degree. I think I've started and then stopped about 3 or 4 times along the way. My biggest distraction from school has been the one I regret the least; Alaska. I let it keep me away from school for 6 or 7 years, and have loved every second. (You should maybe know that getting back up there permanently is a goal of mine, one which I don't intend to give up.) At any rate, I'm back at UVU, studying for a BS in biology, with which I'll apply to do a Physician Assistant Master's degree in a year or 2.
My life is changing. I was just getting settled in on my situation as it was; Married. Father of one. Finish Carpenter. Home owner. Truth be told, I never dreamed of being a finish carpenter, though I've liked it OK; It's good to be able to fix stuff on your own house, rather than hiring someone else. But I was letting go of a prior goal to work in the field of medicine, which would require schooling. Well, life happens. Sometimes it kicks you right in the head. And hard.
When the economy tanked a couple of years ago, the housing and construction industry went in the toilet with it. I've maybe had 2 weeks in the last 2 or 3 years where I actually logged 40 hours with my employer. My wife's work is steady, luckily. She's an RN, working in an emergency room. People always get hurt, get sick, or want a fix of pain meds so, she stays gainfully employed. I've tried to supplement my income by doing portrait photography and carpentry side work. I don't charge enough for photography though. And the side jobs don't come around often enough. The simple truth is that this recession has put the hurt on me and thus, my family.
We've tried staying afloat; keeping our heads just above water, sometimes going under. We've grinded it out for a while. It's a very bad feeling when you're trying to provide for your family and failing miserably; watching your wife work and live on no sleep because there's a 2 year old to tend and feed, while you're working to no avail. We began realizing we were in a battle we couldn't win, with a mortgage way higher than it should be, and other debts here and there. Oh, I think we could maybe try even harder, wear ourselves out just to try and pay bills, but to what end? At some point, all you do is work; you sort of throw away your joy. I HATE that. I believe you have to have joy. You don't have to be rich. You don't have to have nice cars or a big house. But you have to be able to enjoy life and your loved ones. And we've been on a road, seemingly careening for a miserable existence.
My wife and I finally had a heart to heart about our future; not about us, together; but about our future, financially. It was a tough choice, but we put the house up for sale, and began working on getting me ready to go back and finish school. The house has been on the market since like August. It's not a hot market for a seller. We've been trying for a short-sale. (The bank agrees to sell it for less than the loan, as an alternative to foreclosure--usually better for all involved.) The short sale hasn't been going too well. A couple of offers--too low, said the bank. And they're putting the pressure on us like crazy, threatening foreclosure. So far, our financial future isn't looking too bright. (We're hoping and praying for a miracle right now. And someone is negotiating for it at the moment, which is a glimmer of hope.)
A month or so ago, we moved out, planning on a would-be buyer to close on the house. (Didn't happen that time). Anyway, we moved to a charming 2 bedroom apartment in this 150 year old building downtown. It's cheap enough and it works for us. I miss having a garage to park the cars in, especially during snow. But I don't miss the stress. As far as I'm concerned, we're home. We've got each other, we've got a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, and we're generally happy. You see, this way, we get to enjoy being a little family, rather than grinding it out, figuring out how just to survive another month.
Don't misread me; I'm still stressed out about the house. I hate that I can't just pay for it. I hate that this has felt, at times, like such a step backward. And, the worst-case scenario is pretty bad; foreclosure is not good on your credit; it plagues you for years to come. But my wife and I agree that it's nearly out of our control. We cannot pay for it. And we both believe that keeping me in school, to finish this time, is the right route. So, whatever comes of the house, we're moving forward. We'll somehow come out on the other side and be better for it. Right?
Anyway, this is my blog for the next few years; 3 or 4 years of the adventures in the life of a poor, thirty-something, part-time worker, full-time student. I hope you enjoy it. I really hope I enjoy it. A couple of weeks into the semester, a couple of quizzes gone by, and I am a straight-A student. I even have an A+ in Botany because of a bonus question. I'm not naive enough to think any of that will be easy to maintain. But it's my job now. Wish me luck, will you?