Archive for the ‘neuroses’ Category

I moved to Washington seven days ago.  Eight days ago, I was playing frisbee with half my best friends, and the other half were parading along the sides of the fields.  Eight days ago, I hugged a lot of people and said goodbye and marveled at how well I held it together.  Eight days ago I got the last full night’s sleep I’ve had since.


I have seen the sunrise every day since I arrived.  And the sunset.  It’s only light for 9 hours a day right now, and I am at work for all of those hours.  My boss drove me home on my first day, because Husband was dealing with the movers, and I realized as we entered my neighborhood that I had no idea what my house looked like.  We drove past it twice, because I couldn’t see the number over the garage.  I didn’t really remember what color my house was until yesterday, the first time I saw it in daylight.

I have been diligently unpacking boxes and putting things in cabinets and drawers.  I can see the beginnings of a home, in this beautiful house I can’t really believe I own.  I’m just not sure if it’s my home.

I have work to do after work, gotta get those papers out, gotta apply for that award, gotta get that presentation ready.  Gotta read and read, so they are impressed.  And so I keep forgetting to call my friends until after dinner, when it’s already well past 11 pm on the other side of the country.

My job is actually great so far, as I knew it would be.  Professionally, this is the best place for me to be.  My colleagues are fantastic, the research is interesting, the lab is perfect.  If I am going to succeed in my field, it will be here.

People assume newcomers will have a hard time adjusting to the landscape – deserts aren’t for everyone, I suppose.  But that’s not it for me.  It’s beautiful here, even in the winter.  You can see for miles and miles, and the essentially treeless mountains underscore how amazing the earth itself can be.  The sky is breathtaking, even when it’s grey, as it so often is during the winter.

I’m just afraid I won’t be able to make the connections I need socially.  It’s a small town, a family town.  I know it’s only been a week, and it’s the doldrums of winter, it just seems so unfathomably difficult.  And so unlikely!  How could I possibly find people like the people I already had?


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Belated gobble gobbling

I was at my parents’ home in suburban Atlanta for Thanksgiving last week.  Actually, I was there since last weekend, as my car broke (again!) and I’ve been sort of stranded by my immobility.  I got dropped off there on the way back from a frisbee tournament last Sunday – me and ten of my friends went to Hunstville in a 15 seater van, for a weekend of frisbee, adult beverages, and turkey (there as a full thanksgiving dinner for the 28 teams there – glad I didn’t have to cook that!).

My in-laws spent the holidays at my parents’ too, as did my aunt, uncle and cousin on my mom’s side.  Oh, and did I mention Husband was there?  Husband came home!  Hooray!  Though, booo to the bit where we finally got to see each other in a house chock full of our relatives.  BOOO.

It was a good week, all together, though I was more than ready to come home yesterday.  A little too much family for me, this time of year.  I bribed one of my besties into rescuing me, and now I’m trying to motivate myself into finishing the relatively minor edits necessary to wash my hands of this dissertation stuff.  Almost done…

So, I know I’ve been nearly non-existant as far as the internet is concerned – sort of an NaAntiBloPoMo, for me – I’m hoping I can get my head back into this soon.  It’s just, I’m in this bizarre holding pattern.  I kind of don’t live anywhere right now – my stuff is still here in my house  for another 2 weeks, at which point it will begin the trek to WA; my husband is not here, my friends are all over the place.  I don’t have that much to do, but I’m busy as all get-out, somehow.  My car certainly isn’t helping matters.

I suppose the real impediment is that the inside of my brain, lately, is a catalog of complaints: my car is broken, my husband is way over there, my friends aren’t conveniently located, I don’t have a cat, I’m not sure how to pack my belongings for the move, I have a giant huge enormous zit on my chin (again).  Writing that stuff down makes me feel like an overly-negative (or perhaps overly-entitled?) little whiner.  I’m hoping it passes, but I fear that it won’t until I’m done with this limbo period.  I’m still managing to have a great time with my friends and family before I skip town, but when I am alone and thinking, it’s not the best.  I’m also hoping that seeing Husband last week re-set the clock on the crazy, since now it’s onlt 3.5 weeks till I see him again – but that’s soooo loooooong waaah!  I’m going to get an advent calendar, since he’s coming home on Christmas.

Shit!  No car, no advent calendar.  Le sigh….

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Turned my dissertation in to my committee a week ago today.  Since then I have:

1.  Hung out with my parents

2. Spent a weekend drinking excessively with frisbee friends in a secluded cabin in North GA

3. Became an Aunt!  Woo baby time.  This involved logging many hours in a hospital, and dealing with some forlorn cats at my bro’s house.  Oh, and nibbling on adorable baby fingers.

4.  Taught my advisor’s classes

So, despite being pretty damn busy…  I’m curious to know why I feel like I’ve totally withdrawn from life for the past week.  Maybe I’ve just been on mental vacation, or maybe it’s because I’ve been so absent from my house (and my roommates).  Certainly it’s because Husband is gone, and that has an odd way of making it seem like it’s been one interminably long day since I dropped him off at the airport.  I think that the next month (or two) will be an interesting mix.  I don’t feel inclined to socialize in my town anymore – most of my network is a minimum of an hour away.  And for some reason, SusieTime (i.e. me, alone in my room, generally watching something stupid on ABC family…) is increasingly important.  Maybe I’m gearing myself up for the fact that, come January, it’s going to be mostly SusieTime for at least a while.  But that seems silly – seems like I ought to be maximizing the fun?

Looking at my little list up there, though, I guess it seems like I am.  I guess I’m just not as mentally present for all that as I could be.  Because mentally, I’m all over the place – Atlanta, Washington, Savannah (hi!)…  I haven’t been fully engaged in most of what I’ve done recently, because I’m always thinking of someone else who is somewhere else.

At any rate, the overarching feeling I’m left with after turning in the dissertation isn’t necessarily relief…  it’s actually loss.  That’s not quite right though.  I guess I just feel kind of unmoored, not sure what to do with myself.

You know, since actually starting to work on my defense presentation hasn’t yet seemed necessary.  Great plan, Susie!  Let’s see what happens.

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Today…  today has not been my favorite day.  Hasn’t been my favorite week.  I’ve been cranky for days, sleeping poorly (and somehow too much, also… I guess those go hand in hand), snapping at people.  Great way to behave when your days are numbered.

I think that’s the underlying cause.  My husband is flying out to WA at the ass crack of dawn on Saturday.  I’m following him in one month, maybe two…  between now and then I have to finish my dissertation, defend, pack (that word should really be longer, to match its shitty time consuming nature), and say my goodbyes.  I suppose it makes sense that the combined stress of this is morphing me into a moody bitch, but damn if I wish I couldn’t stop it.

It doesn’t help that at frisbee tonight I got rebuffed in front of all the rookies – unfairly, in my opinion.  Told to stop talking down to someone, when all I’ve been trying to do is go where I’m told (since I’m graduating and not playing in the spring).  I don’t understand how these girls don’t see that I am stretched tenuously thin, how they can be so self absorbed.  And how they can handle themselves so inappropriately – on what planet do you holler at someone in front of everyone else?  Is that normal?  I would pull the offending person aside and discuss it elsewhere.  And when I did that after the fact, to clear the air, I don’t think an apology ever actually materialized, just excuses. I’m surprised all the rookies haven’t gotten scared away by the craziness yet.

So then I sprained my ankle, and it’s getting all swollen, which is awesome – I have to drive a lot this weekend, and Husband can’t drive my car (why doesn’t he know how to drive a manual?  uaher;kbn;alken)

And then I get home, looking forward to basically melting into a puddle of emotional blubbering, and find Husband to be MIA…  apparently he’s at a soccer game.  Which, in reality, is totally fine, but in Universe Hates Susie Land, was like the coup de grace.

So, I start crying for the first time in oh, a year?  and can’t just give myself over to that and get it out of my damn system, because I got my tear ducts plugged today (lacrimal occlusion), because I have chronic dry eyes ever since that time I got optic neuritis and got whopped with a ridiculous quantity of steroids, and if I cry it’ll dry my eyes out even more and I won’t be able to see tomorrow (you know, worse than usual) on top of not being able to drive well because my ankle is sprained and I’ll pay for it in spades all weekend.


You can measure the degree of my anxiety by the length of my run on sentences.  True story.

My life is SOOOO hard.  First world problems FTW.

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I’m really ..  excited.  About god knows what.  I don’t know, maybe it’s like… dissertation induced insanity.  I like it.

I’m psyched about my lovely dear friend’s art,  and how I want it all over my house.  I’m excited about my house.  I’m excited about Washington.  I’m excited about finishing grad school and making my husband call me Dr. Wife for at least two weeks.

I’m excited about seeing my family for the holidays – we just bought the most expensive plane tickets of my life.  It’s like…  I think I will enjoy them so much more because I will only get to see them for a bit.  That sounds terrible, but it’s true – we squabble like children when we are together too much.

Excited about playing frisbee before Thanksgiving…  Turkey Tourney, with good friends I’ve not gotten to know for long enough.  An excellent last tournament…

I can’t wait until I’m finished with this sweater dress I’m knitting.  Nearly done.  Also can’t wait to start the next three things I’m planning to make.  Excited about all the movies I’ve never seen that we’re going to watch during our first winter in a strange place.  And the research I get to do at my new job.

Hah now I’m excited, and irritated with myself for over-using that damn word…

Ahhh did one of my roommates slip me something?  This is ridiculous.

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Life Insurance 101

So.  Life insurance.  I’m feelin’ like a big kid lately.

Shortly after the wedding, a friend on my frisbee team who works for Northwestern Mutual contacted us, asking if we would be interested in getting some life insurance.  At first, I felt like that was something we could put off, but since we are buying a house (i.e. taking on a substantial amount of debt), life insurance makes a lot of sense.  While Husband and I have budgeted so that we can afford our life style one only one salary though we are both working, I imagine we’d be pretty sad if the other got hit by a bus and died, possibly not working for awhile – and even though we’ve got emergency funds available, and a decent amount of investments, eliminating some of the financial pressure for a worst case scenario like that seems prudent.  So we agreed to meet with our friend (subsequently called NWFriend) – and that meeting occurred yesterday.

We were asked a ton of details about our financial attitudes and current financial situation, our life plans and goals, our health.  I kind of like having those conversations because they tend to stroke my ego a bit – I feel like Husband and I have done a good job of creating a great financial foundation for ourselves.  So NWFriend gave us a bunch of info about different options, and based on our current life style and future goals, outlined what would be good for us to get.  We ended up getting a $500,000 term policy on me, and a $650,000 term policy on Husband, both expiring at age 80 (this is a standard age limit).  The premiums are $20/month for me and $30/month for him, so pretty low in terms of our income.  The premiums increase every year over the duration of the policy, but very slowly at first.  However, if we still have the policies when we are 75, it will cost something like $10k a year each.  That sounded crazy at first, but it’s not.  First of all, it’s standard amongst all term policies, and second of all – it makes sense.  When you are 75, you are probably going to kick it soon.  Plus, having relatively higher expenses for life insurance are offset by (presumably) having lower expenses for things like housing.

We wanted to get policies that would allow us to pay off the major debts we have (~240K house loan, 10k student loan debt) so that the reduced income wouldn’t send the survivor into having to spend down our savings.  Also, in anticipation of other life changes that will likely occur in the next 5-10 years (one or more kids), we wanted to get enough that the survivor could invest the remainder of the money and receive monthly income off that investment.  250k invested roughly equates to about $1000 a month in income.  As neither of us anticipate being a stay-at-home parent, we can currently assume that 500k and 650k policies are adequate.  Often in situations where a woman is a stay-at-home mom and the man works, you would end up with $500k and $2 mil. policies, respectively (once kids are a certainty/actually exist).  We got a more expensive policy on Husband because boys die sooner, and because if I die tragically, Husband is more likely to bury himself in work, whereas in the opposite scenario, it’s entirely possible that I would stare at a wall for a year.  This is true for us, and true generally for most couples.

We got a higher policy amount for me than many couples choose at our age, because of my high earning potential and because of my health risk factors for MS.  As NWFriend said repeatedly, the cheapest life insurance you can get is what you should have bought yesterday – because I’m currently healthy and should easily pass the physical, I can get a cheap policy that won’t change if I do end up having MS; if we waited to buy more until I developed MS I would either be uninsurable or insurable at great cost.  Also, it’s very easy to change the policy (though easier to reduce than increase).

Another aspect we talked about briefly and will look into more later is permanent life insurance.  While term runs out at a specified age (80), perm runs out when you die.  Perm sounded like a forced savings plan, where you purchase a policy amount at a fixed premium that never changes, and have that amount invested in the companie’s (i.e. NWM’s) mutual fund, which has received at lease a 6.5% dividend (I think it was dividends) for the past 150 years (that was the line NWFriend fed us at least!).  Then you can receive the dividends as cash or reinvest them (like for any mutual fund).  For the term policy we purchased, we can choose to convert any portion of it to permanent before we turn 60.  I’m sort of fuzzy on the details of permanent insurance – I want to look into it more, but it sounds like a intersection of life insurance and forced mutual fund investment.

Life insurance is often offered by employers, and while we will likely take advantage of the highest policy amount we can get without needing a physical, we don’t want to rely on this alone.  If we did, and one or both of us lost our jobs, and then tragedy struck – well, that sucks.

Ok, so back to our purchased term life insurance -we went ahead and set up an automatic bank draft, and are already insured less than 24 hours later.  We had our physicals this morning (I won – my pulse and blood pressure were totally lower than Husbands!  Suck it!), which included medical history, height and weight, urine sample and blood draw.  We didn’t warn our roommates before hand, so they came down to breakfast to find us giving blood to some random lady in the kitchen.  Good times.

Finally, while I don’t think it would be a big deal if we had waited a few years to purchase life insurance policies (perhaps until we were actively trying to reproduce), I feel good about having gone ahead and taken care of it.  Partially because I have morbid anxiety problems and think about that hit-by-a-bus scenario on a daily basis, and partially because it makes me feel all grown up and responsible and holier-than-thou.  You know, if I’m being honest 🙂

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On marriage…

I think the phrase “marriage of convenience” means, to most people, a marriage that is based on something other than the relationship itself.  While I dearly love my husband (haaah!  still sounds funny.), the things that made it apparent in our early relationship that we could go the distance were all practical: we have similar attitudes on spending and saving, family, work-life balance, etc.

See, to me, marriage is all about pragmatics.  I’m not religious, so that’s out as a foundation.  I have had several intense and passionate relationships in my life, and all of those burned fast and left a whole lot of crap in their wake, so the fact that Husband and I didn’t have a whirlwind courtship is actually quite heartening to me.  The beginning of our relationship was marked by a lot of really frank conversations about important stuff: money, faith, family (kids or not? how many? when? approaches to child rearing, division of labor, etc.), communication styles (for instance, I have a tendency to bottle up my anxiety and let it all out in the middle of the night in a really irrational way.  I felt Husband should know that in advance.), career goals.  We talked about how we wanted our lives to work, and then spent a lot of time deciding if the other fit into that picture.  What we found was that if we held a lot of common views, and wanted our lives to look pretty similar.  Like, if you drew a venn diagram of things that were important to us, it would almost just be a circle.  No really:

important things!

Now, I don’t want to make it sound as if I don’t love him, I DO.  Very much.  It’s not all about practicality 100% of the time.  It’s just that I think no amount of chemistry or common hobbies can make up for certain practical inadequacies.

Marriage is, to me, mostly a financial and practical institution.  In the U.S., things are easier if you are married – it is easier to have children, if you so choose, as the burdens (financial and otherwise) of child rearing are borne by two instead of one.  It is easier to get by if you lose your job (as, at least in my life, my spouse will be able to support us both for at least a while).  You get to split up household duties – not just sweeping and dusting – financial planning, too, which I think is much more important than vacuuming.  But maybe that’s because I detest vacuuming. Good thing Husband’s parents bought us a Dyson (omg!) and Husband once said if we had a Dyson (omg!) he would do all of the vacuuming forever and ever!  Suck it sucker.

Anyways, this didn’t go where I planned – I wanted to write about my Financial Attitude, because it has been coming up a lot lately, but I guess a post about marriage is timely.  And my audience’s patience for such rambling will likely run out before too long 🙂

Quick, here’s a picture to distract your from my failure to properly end a post:

It rained, which made me even more glad I chose not to wear shoes!  Shoes suck!  I like green!

It rained, which made me even more glad I chose not to wear shoes! Shoes suck! I like green!

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