Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ying & Yang

Brian's quite the pessimist, and I'm not lightly saying that, whereas on the other hand I'm realistically optimistic. I can always seem to find a way either around a situation, through a situation, how to fix it, whatever, its never the "end of the world, I'm a failure" in my way of getting through things...Brian on the other hand, something goes wrong or not quite the way envisioned he's the "biggest failure to walk the earth". And that becomes our biggest falling out between us, it always ends in a fight or us not speaking to each other politely, such along those lines.

Our main ongoing "crisis" is this house. Sadly around here there isn't a lot of houses, period, that shouldn't be condemned around here either for rent or in our price range to buy. This place isn't on the "should be condemned list" but its also not a "nice" house. It fits my basic qualifications of a good sound starter house, with potential to be added onto & fixed up very nicely. Brian on the other hand thinks he's failing us because we're not living in some 2000+sq ft house.

I have nothing against the fact that he wants to do better than how we're sitting now, in fact I think that's great, that means he's willing to work at improving and has goals. The bad part of that is he feels that this bigger & grander things are something that one should start with, as opposed to starting at the "bottom-rung" and working one's way up. He's only been working on going up this ladder for two years, I think he's doing great, truth be told.

Two years ago he was unemployed and living in my apartment, sleeping on my couch, now he's getting ready to celebrate two years with the same company (a feat he'd never accomplished due to medical issues & psycho family issues). We own, free & clear, two vehicles that are less than 7 years old. We are buying this house & it'll be paid off 100% in roughly 7 years. The house is well furnished. Bills are all paid & on time, every month (well insurance seems to end up falling late by 1-2 days more often than not because of his paydays, but still). We're never lacking any real necessity, yes things get a bit tight a few days before payday & I end up getting "creative" with meals and the like, but none of us have missed a single meal because of there being "no food". Kids both have good looking clothes that fit. There really is no room for us to complain about anything in any of those departments, IMO. Some negatives : We now live in the basic middle of nowhere, in Oklahoma, close to my family, next to a very, basically, impoverished town. The school system has gotten a LOT better in the last few years, but it seriously needs a LOT of help. Our house barely scrapes by with having roughly 1000 sq ft, one bathroom, two small bedrooms, small kitchen, tiny living room, etc.... We also have some annoying electrical issues & water well issues. Not to fail to mention the neighbors. Oh, and Brian has worked his way from making $7.25 an hr to $8.40 an hr, at 40(ish) hrs a week.

On the flip side of that two years ago we were living in a brand new apartment, as in we were the first people to of ever lived in it, brand new. It was in a posh neighborhood, just outside of Austin, TX, inside the school district of one of the best districts in Texas. I went from making $7.00 an hr to making $10.25 in less than a year at the company I was working for, and was getting ready to be switched to a salaried position that started at $2500 a month, plus bonuses. The apartment was a little over 1100 sq ft..had two very large bedrooms, two full baths, two AWESOME walk-in closets, a large storage closet, a separate "closet" for the washer & dryer, small, but decent kitchen, with a dishwasher, breakfast bar, dining area, & HUGE living room, 11 ft ceilings, ceiling fans in each room, CH/A, city water, very close to everything, but tucked back in such a way that we didn't have much traffic in that area. The pool was (literally) right out our door, there was a playground at the other end of the complex, right next to Mikeal's best friend's apartment, a huge field type area between the pool & playground, with all the building in a O basically around the play areas so completely devoid of any possible danger from traffic. The negatives : our (one) car was on loan to us from a friend of Brian's while he was gone to Iraq. The rent was $300 more than what we're paying here each month. The bills were RIDICULOUS. The neighbors above us thought that from the hrs of 12am-5am was a great time to play basketball in the bedroom & living room. "Friends" were always needing some short time help & needed a place to crash for a while so they could get back on their feet...aka until I kicked them out. We were 600 miles from the closest family member. Then right after I got pregnant with Mikaila I started getting very sick & in SEVERE pain and was barely able to manage getting out of the fetal position, much less keep up the pace of working, on my feet, 50-80 hrs a week just to almost break even, falling further & further behind each month, especially after having mooching roommates, my dad dying, then gobs of medical expenses - Brian's scripts then were running roughly $1500 a month, plus about $400 a month in dr visits and blood work, plus my prenatal visits & ER visits, all at about the same time.

Then came the time that I could no longer keep up with it and so we packed up everything & moved in with my mom for a few months, then into one of the "slum, should be condemned" trailer houses, then into this place. Brian got off his medications & went to work here and we've worked our way up, rather quickly, IMO. We gave the car back to his friend, he bought an older truck that needed a lot of work, as well as a car that also needed a lot of work. We then sold the car, after my FIL gave us a minivan that he had nothing really invested in (he's a car dealer, of sorts) after the van was totaled we bought my current 02 car with the insurance payout, then with our income taxes he bought his 03 truck & sold the old one. Here in the next month or two we're likely going to be trading the car straight across for a minivan or his truck straight across for a quadcab that we can all ride in, instead of just two being able to ride in the truck, total...we won't know until my FIL comes out here.

Brian sees a lot of this as failure on his part. He grew up basically without knowing any real struggles, his parents weren't well off, but they were comfortable enough that they were able to make regular trips to Disney, Chicago (from Alabama) and the like, and so for him to be where he is now, with a family, a young family at that, he feels he's failing us because we aren't able to buy designer clothing, the house is what it is, etc.

On the other hand...I grew up dirt stinking poor. I was lucky if the hand-me-downs weren't *too* worn out, I got a new pair of shoes at the beginning of the school year, then again after the tax return check came in...they were always cheap shoes, never more than $10, if they were that "expensive". The house we lived in from the time I was 5 until I was 12 did not have an ounce of plumbing in parents had been given the land by my grandparents, but the money to build the house ran out before the house was done, not enough money to have ea well dug, & just barely out of city limits for city water. The house was heated with a wood stove in the winter & cooled with a couple of box fans in the windows. It was a decent sized house, 3 bdrm, 2 (potential) baths, the works. Until I was 10 the walls were nothing more than some sheets between the bedrooms....sheetrock in the main living areas. We did have a bit of a farm, we raised & bred exotic birds, chickens, rabbits, goats, geese, ducks, pigs, and horses a few times, & sold down to nearly nothing quite often just so that food could be put on the table, for 4 mom was 24 when my baby brother was born, my dad 26. They struggled, but a lot could also be said that a lot of it they brought on themselves being young & unlearned about how to budget & the like & being overindulgent on some of their wants. But my dad also had a lot of health problems that kept him out of work more often than not as well, so I started stepping in to help out when I was 8. I'd spend my summers picking blueberries at a blueberry farm up the road, for $2 a gallon, eventually I started doing work at the day care that we'd go to so that mom & dad could get a decent discount there as well, I'd do dishes, scrub floors, help in the kitchen, & sit with the younger kids during their nap time or playtime, etc. Mom & Dad ended up selling the house because of "neighbor issues" (my uncle whom my mother DETESTS! moved right next to us, on his allotted property) and moved in with my dad's parents. My Papa was an OTR truck driver & my Granny was an amputee diabetic, so it made decent sense to move that direction so that someone was close to her while he was on the road, no other family lived close by at that time....they all moved into this area within a few years.

Things started going well again for them (mom & dad) and life was comfortable again. Eventually that started going to the crapper too because Granny & Papa moved into town after he was no longer able to drive truck due to an injury & her health was getting pretty bad, so it was best for them to sell their farm & move to the city. My dad still suffered with his health issues, when he was 32 he had his first major heart attack, in 16 years, (his first, only up til this time, was when he was 16) It was finally discovered that he had a pretty severe heart condition & was back to being in and out of work, as his health would allow. I went back to work, first babysitting & mowing lawns, then once I was licensed to drive I worked full time through high school, while taking vocational classes & college courses, to help support my parents & siblings.

So to sum it up, I'm completely ABSOLUTELY aware of what "hard times" or "failing" is about. My parents "failed" because where they were making GOOD money they were also spending it faster than they were making it on gambling. Brian is NOT failing. He is honestly working his way up, we're staying out of debt doing it, our children are not suffering, I'm not suffering, I'm blissfully happy.

But because the electrical is something less than desirable in this house (I swear some complete idiot wired it) and to pay someone to come out professionally and basically redo it is going to cost roughly $4,000 (according to one estimate) he feels he's a failure...flip side of this, one of my cousins, who doesn't live far from here, is a certified electrician, I *might* be able to get him to do it for about half that price...and a VERY dear friend of mine here in town was an electrician in his former (un-retired) life and might just do it for the cost of materials and some good fried chicken. If worse comes to worse on all of that I know enough about wiring, etc that I'd crawl into the attic and do it myself...once the temps are back closer to the 60s, and take care of it for about $500, if that. I am NOT going to subject anyone into crawling up there before then, even the guy who said $4000, even if I had the money to hand to him today, I wouldn't do it, its too hot!

Another point of his "failure" in his eyes is our water well....again, another one of those COMPLETE idiot done jobs, it doesn't keep it's prime, so if you use "too much" water you have to mess with it to get it to prime back up and start pumping water into the house again. I've been doing a lot of research online about it and from what I've been able to find the only real issue with it there is a possible leak in one of the pipes, causing air to get into it & losing pressure that way, also the bladder for the well isn't set up properly, so there isn't enough good suction to keep the water in the bladder, OR/AND the pipe is too long for the above ground pump & it needs a submersible pump put on the bottom of the pipes in the well. To hire someone to come out and fix any/all these problems could run around $2000, including the price of the sub pump. But if we start, one step at a time & do it ourselves : moving the bladder to where it should be will *maybe* cost us $20. Pulling the pipe out to check for leaks & possibly replacing all of it & the foot valve *might* cost us $100...and if we do that we might as well put in a sub pump while the pipe is out, so one of those ranges from $200-$800 (not sure what kind I'd need). I can't see where a bit of an "inconvenience" once in a while is a failure on Brian's part....its something that can be fixed & if it wasn't going to be over 100* this weekend I'd in the very least get started with the moving of the bladder tank while he was off work & maybe even pull up the pipes to see if they are too long for the pump, or if maybe the foot valve needs to be replaced, & if that doesn't completely solve our problem we can deal with staying on our schedule of spacing showers, dishes, cleaning, filling the kiddie pool for another 6 months until we can buy the sub pump.

The septic...again, another one of those COMPLETE idiot jobs, they ran the lateral line at a bit of an up hill slope or they only ran 20 ft of line out so there isn't good drain for that & it puddles up a bit, that's going to cost me $3 per 10ft of line & a few hours outside with a shovel & pick. ...Again, another of those things that will have to wait until its not quite so hot outside.

Most of these things I could of already had done and taken care of had it not been for the fact that Brian does work a lot to provide for us & I've had a young infant to care for. Now that she's a toddler I have a bit more freedom of what I'm able to do & I'm more comfortable with asking someone to watch the kids for me for a few hours if I have to so that I can get this stuff done. But in Brian's eyes, he's a failure because his wife is planning on doing these things herself because, according to him, he can't afford to have someone come out and do it. He fails to realize that I grew-up doing these things. I've dug out a septic tank & lateral line. I've helped with wiring houses. I have a plethora of information at my fingertips with just the click of a mouse & push of a few buttons. I took construction classes at a vocational center. I've done construction type work since I was Mikeal's age. Further, Brian's not completely ignorant of these things either, sure I understand that there's a lot not to like about "having" to do it, and I know he doesn't get a lot of time off from work, but these are all things that together we can actually do ourselves, if we make the time & just do it, instead of whining about it all being so "horrible".

Brian is an awesome father, wonderful husband, and a great provider. Yea, we're not living up to most people's standards, but once you get past the looks of all of it we're actually living better than so many people. I don't fear losing my house because some bank screwed me over, the payments aren't so high that if Brian was to lose his job that a job that only pays minimum wage wouldn't pay the bills, at least. The vehicles are paid off, so there is no worry about some repo man coming to take that while we're sleeping. We eat very well and where I do limit junk things there is no shortage of fresh fruits or veggies or anything really...the junk is only limited because I refuse to buy it because its junk.

It just really saddens me that Brian frequently states that he's a failure & is bummed out over what he envisions, when in fact he's absolutely not a failure & is honestly the furthest thing from a failure that I can see. I've tried telling him this, but he just puts me down for saying he really is great, then goes on about how horrible things are, etc, that I could/should do better than him. The thing he fails to realize is I had the opportunity to be married to a good man, who lived in a really nice house (today's market value $305K), has a really nice comfy job ($175K yearly), drives some nice fancy vehicles, the works...and I left him to date Brian, who when I met him didn't have a dime to his name & was laid up from a work injury, living at his friend's apartment, I care a great deal about the first guy, to this day even, but I wasn't really comfortable in our relationship to really honestly be able to tell him that I loved him, because I really didn't have the longing for him, or his things, especially not his things. Brian on the other hand drew me by my heart, and even after all the bullshit, heartache, ups & down I still loved him, I spent over a year not seeing his face, almost as long not even hearing his voice or knowing if he was dead or alive...every time I'd run across a picture of him or an email from him that long been "forgotten" I'd start crying, I'd never been like that with anyone...even my dad whom I was close to growing up, he passed away a little over two years ago from a heart attack, he was 45 years old, I don't have those same type of mourning/worry type feelings as I did when I didn't know about Brian's well being. I don't know if it is because I know my dad is dead, therefore nothing is effecting him or causing him pain, so I'm at peace with that or what, but Brian has been the only person I've ever felt this passionate about, this strongly, and that completely.

Brian, if you happen to read this, do know that you are not a failure. The children & I all love you very much and that most important detail won't change for anything...we can be sleeping under a bridge or in the White House, it wouldn't matter, we still love you, we still support you, and we're always going to be here for you, always.

As an after thought : Bring On the Rain, by JoDee Messina is a very fitting "theme" song for me...

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