Tag Archives: marriage

5 Years

We accidentally started house hunting recently.  I say accidentally, but it was sort-of intentional, and mostly, we fell into it.  It feels like the natural next step, interest rates are low, our apartment is starting to chafe a bit.

But house hunting means admitting that neither of us plan to be at our jobs for more than another year.  So does buying a house based on these jobs make a lot of sense?  And do we decide where we want to live, and build a life around that, or do we decide what we want to do, and build a life around that?

I do not know the answer.  But it seems to make sense to ask myself that age-old job interview question: where do you see yourself in five years?  And for the first time in my career, I have a real answer.

I see myself working in either public interest, or at a small firm (fewer than 10 attorneys) – but a bigger office than my current one.  I see myself working collaboratively with others.  I see myself having a strong relationship with my coworkers.  I see myself going to court no more than once a week.  I see myself doing some legislative lobbying work, some outreach work, and some academic work.  I see myself doing work that is challenging but not exhausting; well-paced and well-managed.  I see myself with more support than I currently have.  I see myself working at a place that has secure-ish funding, so that every year, I am not at the mercy of a single grant being renewed.  I see myself working the hours that I want to work (and I think that I want those hours to be something more like 7am-3pm) and being able to have the spare time after work that I need to stay in shape, stay healthy, and have a good relationship with my family.  I see myself being able to sleep at night.  I see myself being able to talk about my job at parties without bringing the room down.  I see myself having a commute that doesn’t make me feel miserable about my work or my house.

If I expand that, to where do I see myself living in 5 years, I still don’t see the answer.  Do I have small children who I’m preparing to send to an inner city elementary school?  Do we have a backyard and an adorable corgi?  Do we have a back patio and an adorable beagle? Do we have a garden or a garden plot?  Do I have small children who we load into the rear trailer behind our tandem and pedal around the local trail on the weekend?  Do we have no children and a life filled with travel and adventure?  Do we have children and a life filled with travel and adventure?

Home ownership, it seems, is maybe something that you should do when you feel ready to settle down, when you are at a place that you are happy with, in your career and everything else.  My friends who bought houses when they were in a state of flux seem to have regretted it, or at least wound up with lousy commutes.  And I remember the lease we signed five years ago two weeks before my then-boyfriend got laid off.  How stuck I felt.  That was a one-year lease!  This is a HOUSE!

But then I consider how terribly happy we are here.  How we committed to building a life here even though I didn’t have a job.  That committing to that for the future doesn’t seem impossible.  I have job options here and I like practicing here.  So…why not commit to living here?  Why not continue to be terribly happy?  (The property taxes are insane in this city, that’s why.)

Has anyone else faced these issues?  What did you do?

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Filed under Job Search, Lawyering, Life List, Marriage

Interview Questions, Part III

Do you have a family?

When asked this question on an interview last year, I nearly choked.  This is a question that is not only illegal, there is no good answer.  Saying “yes” says that “I will be leaving work early to go to piano recitals” and saying no says, “yes, but I might in the future.”

Several people asked if when a lawyer asks this question, is it some kind of test as to whether or not you know this is an illegal question.  Several people have suggested that I take the interviewer to task over this question.  Those people clearly do not understand the market, in which applicants are a dime a dozen and employers have the upper hand.

So how have I handled this question?  The last time, I simply said, “yes.”  Because well, everyone has a family.  I said yes in a halting way, as if I found the question offensive and the interviewer had better clarify why he/she had asked it.  Which he/she did, or tried to.  But I walked away from the interview wondering if a job that asked me about a family was somewhere I wanted to work, so the question really hurts both people.

The tips I found on the internet for avoiding illegal questions are to say things like, “I can meet the demanding requirements of this job, if that is what you are asking.”  I’m not quite that slick yet, but I’ve been practicing.  I think another easy “don’t-you-know-that-question-is-illegal” answer is, “what exactly are you asking?”  The problem is, they might clarify by saying, “do you have children?” And a don’t-ask-don’t-tell, “it is my understanding that you are not allowed to ask me these types of questions” is probably not the right response, but will do if you’ve already decided you don’t want the job.

I’ve actually been asked this, or if I am married, quite a lot.  So I need to have a better response in my back pocket that says, “MYOB.”  Any suggestions?  Has anyone else faced this?

 

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Wales (Part I)

We are home.  The trip was awesome.  We spent 3 full days in Wales, and 3 full days with the husband’s family, and it was everything a vacation should be, except maybe relaxing.

The good thing about vacations that are a little bit stressful is that coming home feels like it is also a vacation.  Yes, I have to go to work, but there are no more hours-long train or coach rides in my future, for the time being.

Nonetheless, we did get a chance to relax.  I will recap our cycle trip separately, but for here I will state that the Taff trail is not “mostly flat” and August, while perhaps the dry season for Wales, is still Wales.

I have created a new rule for trips to the UK, which is, “never travel without fleece.”  I waffled on whether or not to bring my fleece jacket, deciding on “no” and brought a lightweight cotton hoodie.  I wish I still owned a microfleece jacket, something like this, as that would have been perfect for the trip.  The last time I was in England during the summer, they were having a heat wave so it was 85 degrees.

I am taking today off work to do laundry, wash dishes, go grocery shopping, and take care of some other household-related tasks.  Hopefully I can find the energy to do that and not just sort through 500 pictures from the trip :).  I shall leave you with this one from the Animal Wall next to the Cardiff Castle.

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Girl-Talk

In college, I lived with three women.  We were good friends.  Since college, I’m still really close with two of them, but getting together is a challenge and usually requires a month of planning, but this week, we all happened to be free.  So they came over for dinner and stayed for five hours while we filled each other in about the latest with our families, our finances, our jobs, our apartments, our dating lives, and everything else.

I tried on the dress I bought for my sister-in-law’s wedding, was advised to buy new shoes, and then tried on the other dress I bought for her wedding but am instead wearing to another friend’s wedding, and got told it was the cutest dress ever (I already knew this), but that it still needed new shoes.

And I was just thinking about how much this kind of girl-talk-time is missing from my life.  Because the thing they don’t tell you about living with your boyfriend or your husband is that you are living with a man.  When you ask him to pick shoes, more often than not, he will shrug.  When you change your clothes, he will ask why.  When you come home, really excited, because you bought something fun, he will ask you why you needed it.  He will never help you do your makeup.  He will not watch girly movies with you.  Your entire chick-flick collection will gather dust, and worse, you will feel like yes, they are the dumbest movies ever, because after living with somebody for long enough and only watching action movies or movies you can agree on, you realize that chick-flicks are kind of dumb compared to the approved joint-movie watching movies.  Which include the Bourne trilogy, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Italian Job, Oceans 11, Apollo 13, and whatever movie is on Netflix Instant that you can agree on.

Now, I’m not complaining.  My husband is usually around to open jars, reach high things off shelves, install stuff, build things, and has gotten better at helping me pick out outfits, and at least now feels comfortable telling me he doesn’t like the outfit I’m wearing.  And he introduced me to the Bourne Triology, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones.  But he doesn’t understand retail therapy or how important it is to have a fabulous pair of shoes.  So I’m saying, girl-talk, particularly with old roommates who know you, who just nod when you say, “and then, of course, I got irrationally angry about this thing” and say, “well of COURSE!”

I’m just saying, I don’t go dancing.  But I wholly agree that an evening spent in being yourself, and in expending real energy in having a conversation with another person, is genuinely exhilarating.  (Because am I the only one whose married conversations generally consist of, “and how was your day?” “eh, okay” “did you see that construction is still terrible/congress still sucks/somebody is building something cool in our neighborhood?” and not, “oh, cool, you’ve gotten promoted?  How is that going for you?”)

I’m not saying I would take my girlfriends over my marriage.  I’m just saying that having them around matters to me, and I need to make sure I don’t forget that.  (And I will say, I never realized that I really am a girls’ girl until I met these two, because since them, I’ve had a multitude of female friends, but in high school, most of my good friends were guys.)  So are you a girls’ girl or one of the guys?  And do you also miss, occasionally, having roommates?

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The Big City

I read this article on Offbeat Home and I loved it.  It definitely reminded me of a lot of my friends who moved to the big city after college, and live in crummy and unsafe parts of town living on Ramen noodles.

On the other hand, my husband and I moved to another city, one that we both love, but that has a much lower cost of living than your typical “big city”.  Because our entire city is considered unsafe, because the population is very blue-collar, and because it’s not really hip.  It’s not hip at all.  We finally got a fro-yo place.  And a grilled cheese food truck.  But we like it.  We actually never want to leave.  There is an old folks home at the end of the street and I joke about staying in our apartment forever and then moving into the senior home down the street.  Because it turns out that we don’t mind living in a place that isn’t hip, since we’re not that hip.

I think there is another lie that is sold to young people in their twenties, and that is the young suburbanite lie.  This is the lie for people that fancy themselves grown-up at twenty-two.  It is the lie that you can move to the suburbs, where everybody drives their cars and is safe all the time, and be happy.  When I did this, fresh out of college, I was miserable and unhappy.  And I was actually warned about this, that the suburbs were boring and I would be unhappy, but my logic was, “I’m boring – I don’t go out, I don’t like going out, and I’m happiest when I’m sitting at home playing board games.”

Which is true.  But nobody wants to come play board games with you in the suburbs.  This was the hardest part for us – people just didn’t come over and hang out with us.  I think we hosted…three dinner parties the entire time we lived in the suburbs?  Now it’s much more like 1-2 a month.  Our friends are generally happy to come to us, we know our neighbors, and for some reason, life in the city, even our unsafe, unhip city, just feels so much more vibrant.  Not fast paced-and-scary, the way New York feels, but normal.  My friend stops by and asks if I want to go to happy hour.  There are baseball games going on a mere three blocks from our apartment.  We can see the fireworks on the 4th of July.  We don’t go out much, but as the article says, if you live in the city in proximity to the glamour, and I’ve found that some of it rubs off.

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Another Year?

A few fellow bloggers have recently resigned themselves to another year of living in a place they are miserable, with a job they don’t love.  One of them and I were talking and I commented that it seemed unfair that she is stuck in a place she hates with a job; and I’m stuck in a place I love, but with no job.  We debated which one was better.

I love the city where I’m living, but when I think about another year of doing what I’ve been doing – another year of waking up, checking the job listing websites, aimlessly writing cover letters for jobs I would be perfect for but won’t hire me; jobs I’m more experienced than, but won’t hire me; and jobs that are total reach positions and won’t hire me, another year of that, even in a city I love, is unbearable.

I am very lucky that I get to live someplace I like, with my family, friends, and my support system nearby, and that I have a fantastic husband who comes home to me every day, tells me how happy he is to be married to me, and eats my somewhat mediocre and salt-free cooking.  But the idea of staying here, jobless, for another year?  Man, that is a bitter pill to swallow.

The husband and I talked and I asked him if I should be applying to jobs that would require us to relocate.  He requested that I don’t just yet, until I’ve exhausted all of the options with a manageable commute in the area.  A job in the hand is worth two in the bush, and he has it, so for right now, we’re staying put. I’ve put in a few applications, but I’m not looking extremely hard to move to other areas of the state.

So yeah. It might be another year of dues-paying and feeling inadequate and non-contributory because I’m not making money (which I should get over, but it’s hard.) But it’s okay, because as Meg says, we all have access to success.  So I’m just going to have to make some kind of success happen for me, professional or otherwise.

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Filed under Job Search, Marriage, Unemployed

Closet reorganization

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A few of you asked for pictures once I sorted out my closet.  I haven’t actually painted it like I wanted to, but it is currently functional, and that makes a huge difference.  I have a tendency to focus on small things that won’t actually help instead of big things that will.

A few weeks ago, I came home to my husband building a shoe rack for me. I wasn’t sure how it would go, but once it was in my closet, it was great for boots and party shoes. I then found two shoe racks when we cleaned up at my folks house, and once I had those, I moved my suits and dresses around. My shoes are generally still littered around the house, but at least now I don’t waste time looking for them in my closet. I also feel better and my husband is happy. I also like to keep the top and bottom racks clear so that when I come home and kick off my shoes (I go from suit to playclothes within five minutes of getting into the house), I just kick them under the shoe rack or toss them on top.  I did have to start hanging my pants halfways on hangers to get enough room to see my shoes, but that actually keeps them a little neater anyway.  I have several pairs of activity-specific shoes, like my dance shoes and my tap shoes, which all go on those bottom shelves that are a little blocked, since I rarely use them but won’t get rid of them.  My hiking boots and winter boots are on the floor to the right of the picture, under my sweater rack, since I also rarely use them.

I’ve been saying for years that I wouldn’t use a standard shoe rack, but it turns out the problem isn’t my shoe rack, it was my closet.  If I can’t see my shoes, I won’t use a shoe rack, so as soon as I got all the long stuff out of the way, the shoe rack was easy.

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