Well, I fell off the face of the earth, didn't I? Sorry about that. Things have been stressful around here, and when life is like that, I tend to do what I call "turtling." I pull my arms and legs close, tuck my head down, and try to let life pass me by. Sometimes it works; sometimes I end up a spinning shell in the middle of a busy highway. Don't worry, though, it's nothing serious.
Our car died. (Ok, maybe it's a *little* serious.) We were really hoping to make that car - a 2000 Ford Escort with 125K miles - last another six months or so, but the transmission started giving us trouble. Since we'd already replaced the transmission once, and since the car had other issues, it just didn't make sense to do it again. So when J. was driving it and the first two gears disappeared, we decided it was time to make a switch.
Granted, we weren't really prepared to buy a new car. With my credit history, which includes two repossessions (gotta love what divorce does to your credit!), I had to take what I could get. I was able to qualify for a last-chance program through a local Ford dealership. They got us into a 2004 Ford Taurus with reasonable payments for only 27 months. The plan is to keep the Taurus for 18 months and then, since I'll have good car credit history, trade it in on a new car.
One problem: the Taurus is leaking oil. We weren't thrilled with the fact that it had 120K miles on it, but it's in overall good shape, and it was the only car they had that I qualified for, so we didn't have much choice. And then it started leaking oil. Thank God the dealership is doing the right thing and fixing it for us (it doesn't hurt that my dad has worked for this dealer for 30+ years). So right now my "new" car is in the shop and I'm driving a loaner. Sigh.
Other than the car thing, J. has been really stressed about school. He's got three weeks left, and there's a 50/50 chance he's going to fail one or two of his classes. He's worked really hard, and I think he'll end up passing both of the ones he's worried about, but we just don't know for sure. If he passes both those classes, he would still need to take a 4-hour winter term class to be eligible for financial aid in the spring. Which means he would have no break between semesters. Plus, after having to buy a new car, we don't have the money to pay for the winter term tuition and book. After talking about it for the better part of a week, I put my foot down and told him that he's not taking the winter term class. He needs a break. *I* need a break, because when he's stressed, it stresses me (not healthy, I know...not sure how to fix that problem, though). That means that we won't get any financial aid until the fall semester, but we'll figure things out. If I get a new job with better pay, that will help loosen the financial noose we're in now that we have a car payment.
Oh, didn't I mention that I'm job-hunting? Yeah. As if I didn't have enough on my plate, right? After talking with a good friend who has a similar background and work history as I do, I've realized that I'm making a LOT less money than I should be. Like, $9,000-$18,000 less than I should be. I know that the only way I'm going to get a significant raise in my current position is if I get promoted, which will be a ton of added responsibility, including being on-call 24/7. Why on earth would I do that if I can make a "lateral" move (in terms of title) and make more money? So I've been putting my resume out there. I had a call the day after I posted my resume on Monster, but the job wasn't offering enough money, so I didn't even schedule an interview. Haven't had any more nibbles yet, but I'm continuing to apply for positions, and I've got two friends who are professional recruiters looking at my resume.
Phew! With all this going on, and the fact that there will be zero dollars for Christmas presents, (my Christmas bonus will go to pay for J's spring classes), we've decided to skip Christmas this year. We're not dressing the house, and we're just going to avoid the whole thing as much as possible. It makes me a little sad, since I had some good ideas for presents for J and my mom, but overall I like the idea of having a low-key holiday season. I just don't need the added stress this year. Sad that I equate stress with the holidays, but we all know that stress is an inevitable part of the season.
So...I guess it's not surprising that I got off track with my Days of Thanks project. But while I've been turtling, I've had some time to think about being thankful. Here are some of my thoughts: I'm thankful that my in-laws were willing to help us make the down payment on our new car. I'm thankful that we are able to make a car payment, even if it does make our budget really tight. I'm thankful that J is devoted enough to his education to stress when things aren't going well. I'm thankful that I have the ability to give him the opportunity to go to school. I'm thankful that I have the ability to look for another job. I'm thankful to be healthy and happy. I'm thankful to be married to the perfect man for me, and to have a real partner with whom to share my life.
I may be stressed, and I may pull into my shell from time to time, but I know that my life is blessed. Now, if only I'd won the PowerBall jackpot...