Paring Down

personal comments edit

This is going to sound pretty whiny, but frankly I don’t care. I’ve got some stuff on my mind and it’s time to either vent or explode. I choose vent. So I went this weekend with my parents to check out this condo they’re thinking of moving into at which point I - once again - questioned their reasoning as to why they’d want to move out of the freedom of a house and into an apartment-style living situation again. Dad’s big answer is that he wants to “pare down.” That’s Dad’s big phrase when he starts talking about his living situation - “We need to pare down.”

I’m not even really sure what that means. He’s got this ambiguous definition revolving around it, but the general gist is that he wants to lower the quantity of stuff he has in his possession. Why you can’t do that in your existing house is beyond my comprehension, but for some reason “paring down” always involves moving into a smaller place. (I don’t think he takes into account the fact that the majority of the stuff he wants to “pare down” is the knick-knack stuff that Mom decorates their place with; I don’t think it occurs to him that regardless of where they live, Mom’s going to fill the place up with decor.)

His other reason is that he “hates maintenance.” I’ll sympathize with him on this one. When (if) I get a house, I don’t want to mow the lawn. Jenn has publicly said she’ll do all the yardwork, so I’m holding her to it or paving the motherfucker over. Anyway, Dad doesn’t like maintenance. The funny thing is, four times out of five, it’s Mom mowing the lawn and stuff anyway. But let’s pretend for the moment that’s not the case - Dad doesn’t like the maintenance that comes with a house.

So he wants to move into a condo because it’s the silver bullet that will solve all of his living situation issues. Moving will force him to throw stuff out, and moving into a condo will mean he doesn’t have to mow the lawn. However, the place he’s looking at will charge him around $200 per month for home owner association fees that pay for the mowing of the lawn and other grounds maintenance. I think it also covers water and sewer or something. Fine. The thing I don’t get about that is, though, if you’re going to shell out $200 more per month than you’re already paying for a house payment, and you’re getting a smaller place, why not just hire a lawn service to do your yardwork for you at half the price?

Okay, so there’s that. I have tried to explain to him that he’s not going to like apartment life after living in a house for so long - you can hear the neighbors, you don’t have the freedoms you have in a house, yadda yadda yadda. He doesn’t believe it. This from the guy who loves to crank up the action movies on the surround sound. You can’t do that when you have neighbors attached to you, man. But the need to “pare down” seems to outweigh that.

Anyway, this weekend Dad decided he needed to get all of the stuff I own out of the house. Understand that this is a truckload of boxes full of toys, grade school report cards, and other crap that I don’t even know that I own. He told me that this desk sitting in their living room is mine - huh? I don’t recall that being mine, but I’m sure he’s just trying to shovel his shit into my apartment. There are chairs, there are boxes, there’s this desk… there’s a lot of stuff.

Now, keep in mind that a little while back - maybe four months or so - I got a storage unit because I don’t have space to keep both Jenn’s stuff and my stuff in our ever-crowded apartment. It’s ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag. I hate my apartment and I stew about the distinct lack of space on a frequent basis. We’ve already pored through our stuff and donated or sold the stuff we don’t have room for. We’re at the end of our current space.

So what Dad tells me every time I see him, and continued to harp on this weekend, is that I need to take my stuff because they’re “paring down.” Every time I hear this, I tell him I don’t have anywhere to put it. We all know they’re not moving in the next couple of months anyway, so if he could sit on it until they move, I might have something better coming up then. This time he just wouldn’t let up, so it turned into a pretty heated argument that basically ended with me saying I’m going to have to trash most of my stuff because basically I can’t put it anywhere. Honestly, I’m at the end of my ability to store anything else. I just regained use of this second bedroom we have, and I guess I’ll just lose it again. Fucking great.

That’s just one of the things on my mind. Let’s see…

At work I’ve got too much shit to do and not enough time. I’m sure that’s the plight of every worker in a “right-sized” environment, but we were understaffed before we got trimmed, so now we’re really under-staffed. There’s a huge several-month-long project that I’m working on with some contractors and my name is next to about 70% of the action items. I’m booked. I’m going to training classes during different times during the project, which just means I have less time than needed to accomplish everything (though the training is the only thing keeping me from killing someone, since it’s the only part I look forward to). When I’m gone, there’s no “backup support” for me - when I come back, all I am is a week further behind. Nobody picks up the slack. And then my boss comes over and says, “Hey, you really need to think about when and how we’re going to work this other huge project to be completed during the same timeframe as this already overwhelming project you’re working on…” Yeah, buddy. Thanks. Because I’m not thinking about anything else right now.

At home I’m exhausted. I get up by 5:45a to take Jenn to work by 7:00a, which is a problem for me since I’m not a morning person. Now, when I say “I’m exhausted” that doesn’t mean “I really could use a nap and I’d feel better,” it means “I’m ready to cry spontaneously because I’m so tired I feel like I’m in a hellish sleep deprivation experiment where the scientists forgot to tell me I can sleep again.” I’m beyond beat. Going to bed earlier is not going to help - I’m not a morning person, so regardless of how much sleep I get, if I get up before, say, 6:30a, I’m destroyed. Any time before 7:30a and I’ll be tired, but I can sometimes pick up the slack on the weekends with that. Not so with this 5:45a shit. I can’t hack this.

Financially it doesn’t help motivate me that Jenn is technically unemployed - she’s working a six-week externship (reads: “volunteering”) that could turn into *gasp* a permanent position with the same suck-ass hours. (No, she can’t park at work; they don’t give employees parking permits unless they carpool.) Her last unemployment check for a whopping $130 or something comes in on Wednesday and we’ve got four weeks left of this volunteer work. After the externship, she’s got to find a permanent position somewhere (preferably not at ridiculous hours), so God only knows how long that will take.

The volunteer-work is really cutting into the budget; actually, the whole “sending Jenn through school” has cut into the budget. I’m glad she’s got a career coming up that she can grow in and love, but I was getting only about 30% help with the bills before, now I’m getting around 10%, and after this week, it’ll be 0%. So I’m supporting two people on a one-person salary with no end in sight.

We want a house, but I can’t save up any money to get there (and, in fact, I’m eating into the savings by living like this), so we live in an overpriced apartment, pay for an external storage unit to house the shit we can’t get rid of but have no place for, and I can’t get ahead. I love Jenn dearly, but from a financial standpoint, I was able to make ends meet a lot better when I didn’t have to support her.

So I’ve got the work issues, the home issues, and the financial issues all stewing in my brain. I don’t have the ability to turn that off; if I focus on something else, I’m okay, but as soon as I’m done with that activity, my brain reverts to stewing on that stuff. I wake up every morning with a sore jaw (I’m sure I’m clenching my teeth) and a stiff neck and back because I’m all tense…

I guess the whole point of this is that most folks I socialize with expect me to be “the rock,” the guy who always has it together and who, if all hell breaks loose, will help to pick up the pieces. What I’m finding, though, is that I don’t have anyone that I can rely on to help pick up the pieces if my shit falls apart. As it turns out, it doesn’t sound like I can rely on my own parents, which is disheartening, but I suppose I should have expected it. I’ve come to realize that the phrases “If you want something done right, do it yourself” and “Trust no one” have more than a little truth behind them. I guess I’ll just pick my stuff up from them on Saturday.

I’m waiting for some sort of nervous breakdown. Or maybe a heart attack. I can’t de-stress, because I have no one to rely on to back me up, and I can’t take a vacation because I can’t relax - all I end up with after vacation is more work to try to catch up on.

To top it all off, as I mentioned in my last entry, I got called for Federal jury duty. I’ve got training courses scheduled during the time I’m supposed to go, though, so I’ve got to see if I can get out of it. With my luck… well, let’s not jinx it here, shall we?