Saturday, September 19, 2015


I have been home from work for two weeks now. The first few days were blissfully lazy. I did not do much of anything except let the days sink in like a long vacation. After several days of laying low, the realization dawned on me that company was coming soon and the entire house needed to be cleaned. Activity sparked into my days. I cleaned and organized and organized and cleaned for over a week. It wasn't perfect or as thorough as I would like and I never actually got to the kitchen myself--hopefully it wasn't too shocking or horrible--but we welcomed the Darwins into our home, nobody got hurt, and everyone had a spot of floor on which to sleep. And good times were had by all.

Through the years we have lived in this house, hospitality has not been our strong suit. Basically we never invite anyone over unless it is family for a child's birthday party. The essential reason is because I am never organized or put together enough to manage for either myself or any potential guests. Who wants to dig out a spot on the couch in order to sit down? Hospitality means making your guests comfortable and I have never felt I was in a position to make anyone comfortable here who wasn't already inoculated to the mess.

The other hesitation I had in inviting people over was the inevitable fallout from dealing with the aftermath. No matter how organized or clean the house is in anticipation of a visit, there is always extra clean up after company leaves. That's just the way of things. In the past, that extra clean up would stretch into an absurdly long amount of time. I always had to go back to work on Monday which meant the clean up never started in earnest for a week. But in that next weekend, I still had my normal allotment of clean up as well. The house would be put back in order only partially and slowly over the next handful of weekends.

One weekend party or quick trip away translated into two or three or four weeks of extra clutter and the accompanying stress that extra clutter brings. There was no margin in the schedule. The less we did or the less people were over, the easier my life was. There was no such thing as a quick get-together. While I was not happy about this state of affairs, I felt constrained to change anything. The schedule was what it was.

In a conversation I had with Amy a few weeks ago, she said that soon, once the house was cleaned up the first time, I could have people over and it wouldn't be a catastrophe. She was right! Thankfully, she was right.

After staying up too late because of a pile of giggling girls in the living room and getting up too early because of girls on a mission to extract every moment of fun possible, I felt very groggy on Thursday after the Darwins continued on their trip to warmer climes. I didn't panic because of a perceived conflict between rest and picking up the house. (NB: No worries, not a big mess, just the regular little bit when ten extra people have been in your house.) Instead I took a nap and spent most of the day resting. On Friday and Saturday, we had commitments that kept us out of the house most of the day. Still I did not panic. We will have to be gone most of the day tomorrow. Still not panicking.

I feel completely relaxed about getting to the house. I know that come Monday I will have plenty of time to walk about and do what needs done. And then by Tuesday, it will be done. No stress, no drawn out process of incremental improvement, just time to get it done. Margin.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Insurance and Everything After

On Monday we had an appointment to sort out one of the most joyful aspects of self-employment: individual insurance policies. There is a local insurance agent who has been highly recommended repeatedly so we asked her to come over and help us out. I expected to talk about insurance options and HSAs and dental and vision insurance options. Instead she sat at my kitchen table for two hours and filled out an online government form for me. I was annoyed. I can fill out government forms by myself. Heck, I even do my own taxes. I guess I am not the normal client. She gets rave reviews and I came away thinking most of her clients must be incurious.

By the time our appointment time was finished, we were the proud owners of a shiny new Obamacare account and not much else. We signed up for a basic medical insurance product to carry us through the rest of the year, but no other burning questions were answered because first, the stupid website was an insane maze of redundant questions--shocking, I know--and second, the agent did not even attempt to broach any other subject beyond setting up an Obamacare account. She didn't ask what our concerns were. She didn't ask if we had any questions. She just asked data questions in order to fill out a form, showed us the options that popped up, clicked a few buttons, and left. I was not impressed. The old adage still holds true. If you want something done right, you must do it yourself. I figure she got a little bit of commission from whomever pays her for driving out here and I'll figure out the rest myself.

So if anyone has any knowledge about how HSAs work, if they are even available on individual plans, and whether or not it is worth it for adults to get dental and vision insurance, let me know because I am going to spend the next few months trying to figure out the answers to those questions.

What was really stunning about our trip through Obamacare is how much money is being given out by the government. Mind blowing. The EITC is peanuts compared with this sum. Without government subsidies, the policy we bought would be over $900 a month and carry a $4000 individual deductible, but we get it for $450 a month with a $2000 individual deductible. Apparently the government thinks we are really poor. No, really. There are six levels of subsidy and we qualify for level five or the *almost* poorer than dirt level. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around that fact.

Not to belabor the point but we make around the median household income in the US. How can the median household income in a rich country be considered so poor as to need five levels of assistance among all the other assistance?  I am caught between being happy about having a reasonable monthly payment and being wary of the overarching implications of such a subsidy policy. Could we afford to pay more? Probably. Would it really suck and make it hard to afford to do anything else? Yes. I admit it pricks my pride to have the money offered to me and to actually need it, but I also worry about whether or not the country can afford such a generous policy. My gut instinct is that we cannot.


Most ridiculous series of pages in signing up for Obamacare: Dave had to affirm that he was the parent of Grace <click> the parent of Olivia <click> the parent of Sam <click> the parent of Marian<click>. I had to affirm that I was the parent of Grace <click> the parent of Olivia <click> the parent of Sam <click> the parent of Marian<click>. I had to affirm that Grace was my child <click> Dave's child <click>the sister of Olivia<click>the sister of Sam<click>the sister of Marian<click>. I had to affirm that Olivia was my child <click> Dave's child <click>the sister of Grace<click>the sister of Sam<click>the sister of Marian<click>. I had to affirm that Sam was my child <click> Dave's child <click>the brother of Grace<click>the brother of Olivia<click>the brother of Marian<click>. I had to affirm that Marian was my child <click> Dave's child <click>the sister of Grace<click>the sister of Olivia<click>the sister of Sam<click>. And after all those clicks, it all popped up on one page and had to be confirmed one more time. There is a reason it took two hours to sign up for an account. Money well spent for website contractors, I'm sure.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Today is the one year blogiversary of this ever-so-humble abode. Last year, I wasn't sure if I would have much to say. I guess after a hundred and thirty something posts, I've managed to say something after all. Hopefully it hasn't all been bilge. Goal for the coming year: Redesign away from a standard plug and play template.

Today is my parents' anniversary. Today is also exactly 40 weeks before my birthday. <cough>  You know if I had been born circa two thousand and something instead of circa nineteen seventy something, I would have a different birthday because no way would a doctor nowadays allow a mother to go two full weeks overdue. I like my birthday where it is.

Today is also the first official day of my unemployment. Or nonemployment. Or entrance into the nonmarket economy. Or the beginning of my life unencumbered by a job.

Who could have known all these things would align on a single day?

This is the day I have waited on for years. Today is the day I can begin to plan and live the rest of our lives. I feel like I should have something profound to say, but I don't. The only emotion I can conjure is profound gratefulness. And panic about housecleaning and cooking and homeschooling. But mostly gratefulness that this day, which I thought might never arrive, is here. I thank all of you for coming along on the ride with me.