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Margaret Dilloway, American Housewife

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laid off

The Unbelievable Lightness of Not Having Stuff

There have been many difficult components to this cross-Pacific move: the separation, first from my husband when he came over here; now from my oldest daughter, who wanted to stay back with her g-parents and finish out her 5th grade promotion stuff and Girl Scout activities; the enormous expense; the selling of all the old things; the giving away of our two kitties; the giving up of our nearly 2000 square foot house for a 1100 square foot townhouse with two fewer showers and one fewer bedroom.

A job is a job. Having a job, in a single-income family, far outweighs not having a job, even if one has to move. If we had stayed, perhaps my husband would have gotten a job elsewhere (probably L.A.), or perhaps not, and then we would have to give up everything anyway because, hey, we would be BANKRUPT, just like our old state.  What up, California?

Yet, giving up everything and nearly starting from scratch is hard. For me, anyway. The kids have mostly adjusted. Sure, Kaiya’s still getting up too early and needs a nap and is cranky, all symptoms of the move, I think. And sure, all the area preschools are filled so I’m utterly panicked about what she’ll do this fall (which comes July 31 for school here– aack!)

But when you’re used to having a largish TV and you now have two small ones with buttons that you push, no remotes– and your kids are on mats on the floor, and you just gladly accepted a crappy wood-esque desk from a Craigslist stranger, and you’re using a spoon as a knife because you don’t have a knife, then you know things are different. You know you don’t want to get into debt buying silly things like furniture, when you just expended a large amount of money and are in debt from moving and all that time your husband was laid off. You know you are simply poor.

At low points,  I castigate myself for not doing more. For not settling on a career right of out college and working like hell at it until now, so at present  I would have a nice income. For not putting off marriage until we had both become secured in our careers. For not putting off children until at least my husband was secure.

When I married Cadillac, he was an Army specialist and I knew, of course, he was poor. What I didn’t know was how hard it would be to get out of the Army at age 29 and reboot yourself with a whole new career, started entry-level. It’s difficult to catch up.

Sometimes I think, Oh, if I had been working too this whole time, we wouldn’t have it so hard now. But Cadillac’s always told me that my writing’s my job. He thinks it’s a gamble that will pay off. He’s much more of a gambler than I am, though; that’s why he adores the stock market and Vegas. He’s usually pretty good at his bets. I hope he predicted well with me.

And if things had been different, if I had chosen differently, they wouldn’t have been better, necessarily.  I chose to have children young.  A couple of years ago, I began to have “lady problems” (for not wanting to put out TMI) and my doctor said, “It’s a good thing you already had children, because I don’t think you could get pregnant now.”

The bright side of the move  is that we don’t have a lot of stuff. I don’t think I’ll ever buy *stuff* again, not if I have to move it or sell it when we move. It’s surprising how little one can have, and not die like you would have thought when you were ensconced in middle class suburbia, way back when. We still have a computer and Internet access, after all. It’s not quite the dark ages.

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Best. Day. Ever.

Ever since my husband got laid off six weeks ago, I haven’t had many GOOD days.  I’ve had “good” days that were simply not bad.  I”ve had less-anxious days that didn’t require a sleeping pill.  I’ve had moderately happy days when a small freelance check came in and we could buy some food.

But yesterday was a good day.

First: Sazze.com informed me that I had won the Stand Up and Spam Back contest, in which we had to write a scam letter, like the kind we always get saying we won the British lottery or that Engineer Robson needs our help.  Mine:

Dear Most Honered Frend,

Sh. Secret time. This is Princess Maleea, yes, *the* Princess Maleea. Yes, right, the one and only Virgin Princess. Do not tell a sole for I am in a heap of trouble this time, and I so need your help.

Late last night, my most revered Father, the King of Swatiooika, was kidnapped by a band of renegader munchkins. I was fast asleep upon a pile of featherbeds , wearing in my swirling white 100% nylon gown purchase at JC Penny’s, dreaming of my one true dream, visiting Amerika. Whoosh went munchkin by the head. NOw my father is captured in one of the nation’s biggsest exports, one of our rich mud farms which produce much of our wealthiness.

And now, if I could ask of you to do me one small favor. You see, the Reverend foreseen the event and hath put the monies of the country into a bank account in Amerika. Now our peoples have no foods. To save us all, to help us, simply put $1 into this account by which I will give you the number soon, and in return Reverence will give you the small sum of $5 million dollars, such a pittance for your honored help.

To enact the transaction and act upon this act quicker than fast, I must needs your bank account number to put forth the sum of cash, as well as the license number by which you are allowed to drive a passenger vhicle, and the number of Security by which the government has stamped you. Do this fast and so I will assume you have the good faith. In return perhaps my father has said that who has helped me or the brother or male related to you in case you are not male, he has said that the person or male relative of that who has helped shall be the new King of Swatisoio and reap all the awards of our rich and fertile Mud Swamps.

This is what I lok like forgive me for my ugliness

http://giselefan.org/update/

I await the coming of your most helpful presence of numbers.

YOUR TRUE FREND,
Maleeka
the prncesst most high

I won a Roku Netflix player and Netflix subscription for my troubles.

That was exciting enough. I jumped up and down and high-fived my husband and ran to tell the kids, who also jumped up and down. “At last! All the movies we want!” my son yelled, as though he never gets to watch anything.

Then my lover-ly editor got back to me with a lover-ly editorial letter, which I am going to work really hard at and hope it’s the last. Her suggestions, as always, will improve my novel and are the sort that make me slap myself on the forehead and think, ” I should have figured that out on my own!” But cool.  I know what I need to do and I’ll do it.  Sometimes I feel like my editor is teaching some MFA level course that I should have already taken, for which I humbly will owe her forever.

Then, with my editorial letter still hot from the printer,  my husband appeared and said that the office in Hawaii he’d interviewed with had offered him a job.

Woot! Another round of high-fives, followed by more running to tell the kids.

“Do good things come in threes?” I asked my friend.

“I dunno.  I’m happy if I get one,” she replied.

Stellar day. Marked here.

gratuitous kissing pic
gratuitous kissing pic

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