Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Geography of Bliss

I just finished The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. Basically, a jaded journalist travels to ten different countries, the happiest and the least happy, to try and discover the recipe for bliss.

After traipsing across the globe, from Iceland to Bhutan, he says there are very few clear-cut pieces that determine one's happiness. Iceland, for example, is plunged into darkness half of the year and yet they still rate themselves towards the top of the scale. Qatar, a country of sunshine, heat, and wealth, has a resentful population who never seem satisfied.

At the end of the book, he finds only a few solid conclusions.

“Money matters but less than we think and not in the way that we think. Family is important. So are friends. Envy is toxic. So is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude.” 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Debt. Damn you.

So, I have debt.

A LOT of debt.

I'm taking advantage of a rare day off and reading stupid articles about rich people taking "only 7 months" to pay off their loans from their Harvard MBA programs and having to stop payments to their multiple retirement funds to do it.


In the spirit of Newlyweds...on a Budget, I'm just going to lay it all down here. I'd say brace yourself, but I'm too busy bracing myself.

$2,500 (Credit Card)
$6,500 (C Car Loan)
$8,000 (J Car Loan)
$2,000 (J Previous Car Loan on a Lemon- so no car, but still got the payment)
$1,000 (J Personal Loan)
$3,000 (J Gov't Loan)

Take a deep breath.

I'm warning you.

$94,000 (C School Loans)


TOTAL: $117,000

The plus side is, we've paid off  a lot of the debt he brought, and now we're getting into mine. The down side is, this is a lot of freakin' debt.

Here's how I figure it- they say marriages can really suffer under financial strain, but we're still good. In fact, we've been broke and in love since day one. We are trial by fire, and we are totally winning.

Well, this was fun. Let's check in on those numbers again sometime next month.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Moved again.

I'm pretty sure I left off in Oklahoma.

Once again, major changes. Or, maybe I just avoid calling anything a "change", since moving actually seems to be something of a habit or a lifestyle choice at this point. I'm not sure if this is how the rest of my life is going to go, but honestly, I didn't expect basically anything from the past five years. I got out of college and, without a linear path of schooling as a guideline, I feel like I've turned gypsy / nomadic.

J is done with the military. Actually, let me rephrase. He's no longer an active-duty military man, but he IS taking advantage of the GI Bill and is now going to school and getting training on diesel mechanics. He is so much happier and comes home to tell me all about hydraulics and argue a Craftsman v. Snap-On debate. Needless to say, he's pleased as punch to be a civilian again and I'm happy to not have any more deployments.

I finished out my school year, he finished up his paperwork, and we packed a trailer and the pup and left for New England. My parents had a large basement they morphed into an in-law apartment for us and now "The Bunker" is what we call home. We pay rent, but nothing like we would have to face if we lived in apartments around here. We're lucky and grateful, but for anyone who has ever had to move back, you know it can be a tricky living situation.

He goes to school and also works part-time in a shop. He comes home smelling like oil or grease and he absolutely loves it. He's talking about getting more tattoo work done, which is fine by me because I think it's sexy as hell.

In the meantime, I am working in the Special Ed department of a local school, hoping to make a good name for myself to be able to land my own classroom next year. It's pretty competitive in general up here, and cracking into the education field can be a tough. (For example, I applied for a teaching job at the school my cousin works at- she let me know they received 500 applications.) I'm also taking care of two girls everyday after school, about 20 hours a week.

We both have really busy schedules and, for the most part, we're ok. Here's my major worry, though: I do not want to become my parents, or their parents, or my cousins or aunts and uncles. J has told me that it seems that everyone in this area kills themselves to be homeowners and spend the rest of their lives trying to fix up a home they struggle to afford. I never thought about it, because I had always thought that was the way everyone lived. After visiting and getting to know his family, I now know that's not the case. Some people do not devote their health and happiness in order to have a home.

I feel like we're entering the rat race, just like all my family before me, and I don't want to watch my husband work 80+ grueling hours per week like my father did. I don't want to be spending time constantly worrying over budget spreadsheets like my mother.

But I do that, like she does. And he works a lot of hours, like my father still does. We need an Escape Plan.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Artist: Reem Acra

When Olivia Wilde goes to parties and people ask her what she does for a living, instead of actress, she should reply, "Reem Acra."
(Obviously these cocktail people have been living under a rock. Maybe they're obscure European royalty. Let's go with the latter.)