Whoah! It’s been way too long. Sorry ’bout that folks. What a long strange trip it’s been.
I’ve been in and out of dire financial distress, exhausting job searches and interviews, staring contests with my mortgage lender, frequent bouts of crying and screaming, tense conversations with family, innumerable listings on Craigslist, interminable wait times on hold with credit card companies, and now? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh… sigh. I can breathe again. And it’s all good. For now.
In March I was put on the City of Oakland’s layoff list. My doom was all but certain. I’m still not sure how it happened, but I was spared the axe in the 11th hour on June 30, the day before the fiscal year was to begin. Four of us attorneys were put on the layoff list in March, and the other three were let go.
Also in March I received notice from my bank that my mortgage payment would be increasing by 50%. Since that time, I’ve been able to modify that loan, and it’s taken a lot of time and headache, but it looks like it’s coming back down to a manageable amount.
I’m grateful, and for more than just keeping my job. I’m thankful for the opportunity these last few months gave me to take a hard look at my finances, my wasteful spending habits, my shopaholism, my living situation, my friendships and priorities, and my career goals.
I’m a changed person, and I think it’s all for the better. I have a new housemate who is a great addition to my life. I am saving – saving! – a portion of my monthly pay. I have freed myself of the impulse buying instinct. I am making longer term plans for my career and taking more responsibility for my future. I’ve sold off and given away lots of physical and emotional baggage. As I’ve said before, I’m scaling my life way back, and it feels good.
But the stress! It’s been difficult to peel myself off the ceiling, to unclench my teeth and my fists. I’ve been in high alert mode for so long now, I had forgotten what it was like to relax, to be kind to small animals, to find joy. I know I’m not alone in this, I see it in the faces friends who are struggling to find a job, or starting a new enterprise to make ends meet, or being forced to move out of their homes.
And it’s particularly hard to unwind when I know that the City is almost certain to go through another round of layoffs this year. The experts are saying that the economy is going to continue to get worse before it gets better. The state legislature’s budget deal will steal billions of dollars from local governments, making it harder for cities to pay for essential services like, for instances, legal advice.
And yet unclench I must. Because life goes on. It might take me a while, and I’ll need a little help. But if I squint real hard, and look at it from an angle, I think I can see that light at the end of the tunnel that everyone is talking about.