…And the Recession Hits Home

Friends, I haven’t posted on the blog for a while because it’s been a rough couple of weeks.  First I learned that my monthly mortgage payment is increasing by 50%, and a week later I was informed that I’m on the layoff list for the City of Oakland.  Me?  Me.  Wow.  Big ol’ smack upside the head, a dramatic reminder that I’m not immune to all of the scary and fascinating things that are happening to the national economy.

And yet… there’s hope.  The Obama housing rescue plan might actually help me renegotiate my monthly mortgage payment (YES!).  And I may not actually be laid off if the City receives certain stimulus funding (Go Oakland!).  And if I am laid off, my monthly COBRA payments will be subsidized (yay Congress!), and unemployment benefits keep getting extended (whew!).  And so for the first time I can remember, the folks that I voted for at the national level are making decisions that are directly impacting my day-to-day.  Huh.  Who knew?

And so I’m starting to do things I should have done years ago:  scaling back the size of my life by cutting my monthly expenses and getting rid of all the stuff that I don’t need.  I’m rooting around, taking stock, selling it off, giving it away, and shaking it up.  I’ve been reconnecting with my community – friends and acquaintances who might help me land safely, or who are walking their own paths of crisis and renewal.

And I’m reducing my imprint on the planet – literally.  I’m converting my dining room into a bedroom, so that I can rent it out and defray some of my housing costs and energy use.  I’ve fired my beloved dog walker, and so I’m bonding with my beagle and gettting more exercise.  And I’m physically shrinking – cooking at home more, I’m eating much healthier and losing those last few pounds.  I’m driving less, BARTing more.  I’m finding creative (and free!) things to do with friends that are far more fulfilling than expensive dinners and fancy political fundraisers.  This is kinda fun!  My life is a big Rubik’s Cube of problems to solve, and the colored squares are starting to line up.

And while this Total Life Upheaval could have happened in a less traumatic way (Are you listening, Universe?), I’m actually beginning to feel thankful and more grounded, and looking forward to whatever’s next.