Friday, April 9, 2010

Unemployment Armageddon

We found out two days ago that in addition to the end of my current employment on September 30, Mark's contract ends October 1.

I feel angry, paralyzed, motivated, frightened. I am a walking maelstrom of emotions.

The only things we can do are the obvious:
  1. Job hunt. My company has said that if we can move, they will help us find positions elsewhere in the company. In addition, Mark's skills transfer easily across industries. If he can find a position in petrochemicals or one of the other industries around here before the rest of NASA is laid off and saturates the market, we can stay in Houston.
  2. Cut expenses. This will be the most difficult proposition because we already live pretty close to the bottom of the threshold, and there still are many things we need to buy. Burgundy wants to attend the Rice summer school again, this time for enrichment. Given the trouble she had in Algebra last year, we really want her to take a pre-Calculus enrichment class before she takes it for credit next year. She wants to take a class in writing, a class in Chemistry (she's taking Chem next year), and a class in US photographic history. We will pay for this because her education is important. It's worth it. $775. And that's only one expense. There's my truck, repairs to the house, medical bills . . . you name it.
  3. Save money. As much as we can. We're working on that now. Mark is selling his books again over the internet, and I'm thinking of selling all but my most cherished yarn, fiber, and fabric. With all the above expenses, we're going to have to be brutal with each other about saying no.
  4. Sell the house. This decision hurts the most. Mark loves our house. His garden is thriving, and we like our neighborhood. We're five minutes from Burgundy's high school, great location, yada yada. However, once NASA "refines" its workforce, housing here will plummet, and we'll lose our meager equity. We need to sell it now. Mark and I disagree on this, so the common ground we reached is that we need to get it ready to sell. I plan to call a realtor friend next week and ask her to help us prioritize what needs to be done. I know we need to get the clutter out of the house; Mark won't want to get rid of anything, so that will represent more expense. As will new carpet, replacing the tub in the guest bathroom, painting rooms and landscaping. We have pine trees.* I hate pine trees, and I have ten of them in my front yard.
I'm not sure exactly how, but I know we'll make it. Even if we end up drawing unemployment, we should be able to make it.

* Good God I hate pine trees. Perhaps it's that I grew up dirt poor in pine country, Mississippi, but they scream, "I AM TRAILER TRASH AND CAN'T AFFORD OAK TREES OR LANDSCAPING, SO I PLANTED UGLY, WEEDY, FAST-GROWING TOOTHPICK TREES INSTEAD! FEAR MY SHOTGUN!"


  1. I'm so sorry you're dealing with this stress. I'm praying for your family.

    I'm kind of the opposite about the trees though, but I live in backwoodsy Ohio :) We have one oak tree and a bunch of pines and I much prefer the pines. The oak is a hazard during windstorms, because the branches have come close to hitting the house before. The pines don't pose any danger, serve as a natural fence in our backyard and stay green year-round. Anything green in the Winter makes me feel good!

  2. Very sorry about the circumstance you are dealing with...keep the good attitude though!

    Sorry, but that last bit made me laugh...Funny the perceptions we build of things and ourselves when we are young!

  3. I'm really sad about this news, but I hope you all turn out on top!