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Scattered Thoughts

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United-States/South-Carolina

 

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  • December 14, 2017 11:02:55 AM
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A Little About Us

Part personal, part political, part observation. I'm not quite a bleeding heart liberal, but I won't hesitate to call people out if deserved.

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Almost Not Underwater

We achieved the American Dream of home ownership some years ago, and we can’t wait to sever ties with it. In 2005, before the great housing crash that was part of the Great Recession, we bought a house. It was intended to be our home for 5 years or so, after which point, we would … Continue reading Almost Not...

We achieved the American Dream of home ownership some years ago, and we can’t wait to sever ties with it. In 2005, before the great housing crash that was part of the Great Recession, we bought a house. It was intended to be our home for 5 years or so, after which point, we would move on. Much like plenty of other Americans have done.

And then the housing market crashed. Hard. As in, it made me feel physically ill to see what the value of our house was, compared to what we paid for it. And we were the lucky ones, because we were still able to make our mortgage payment. Which made it all the more frustrating to see some people walking away from their mortgages. BTW, I’m not speaking of people with financial hardships. I’m speaking of people choosing to allow foreclosure, in order to get out of the same situation in which we are.

I use the word “are” because in 2019, we’re still underwater. I can almost see the break-even point, though. Almost. I don’t want to make a profit on the house. I just want to be able to sell it for a price that covers the remaining mortgage, selling costs, and the realtor commission. In 2013, we moved to a different state, and rented out the house. So it’s been a new kind of frustration, since the rent doesn’t cover the mortgage payment, to continue to pay about $500 monthly out of pocket for a house in which I don’t even live. Yes, we have both a mortgage and rent due each month, because we refuse to have TWO mortgages.

Some people use rental homes for making money. Not us, lol. That’s necessary income for us. So I breathe a sigh of relief each month when the rent from the tenant is deposited into our account, minus the property management fees, of course. We’ve been lucky to have tenants in the house for most of the past 6 years. We’ve had a few bumps… finding new tenants after the first set moved into a retirement community, the property management company dropped the ball when another tenant moved out and led to the house sitting empty for almost 2 months, some surprise repairs, etc. But no real horror stories.

And then, our current tenants were late paying the rent in December. Not just a few days late. They didn’t make *any payment until they received a certified letter from our property manager. When you add the stress of not receiving 20% of your monthly income + a person who deals with anxiety, it equals, well, you can let your imagination do the work. It’s not pretty. After a lot of back and forth with the property manager, the tenants did manage to make the account current before the end of the month, and we opted for a wait-and-see approach before taking any action.

I gave a huge sigh of relief when the rent was deposited into our account this week. Six years of worrying about that each month is exhausting. I’m hoping this will be the year that I can let go of that. Every other part of the United States seems to have rebounded from the housing crash. Surely, that little corner of New England will rebound soon.


Nothing But Pawns in the Game

Wikipedia has an entry entitled “Government shutdowns in the United States.” That’s rather telling, isn’t it? There’s a separate entry for the current shutdown that began December 21, 2018. This is the 3rd shutdown in the past year. Let me say this clearly. Federal employees are weary of being used as pawns in this game. … Continue reading Nothing But Pawns in...

Wikipedia has an entry entitled “Government shutdowns in the United States.” That’s rather telling, isn’t it? There’s a separate entry for the current shutdown that began December 21, 2018. This is the 3rd shutdown in the past year. Let me say this clearly. Federal employees are weary of being used as pawns in this game. Congress continues to be paid throughout shutdowns. The President continues to be paid. In this particular shutdown, 75% of the government is actually still open, so the majority of federal employees are still being paid (and working, I might add). However, that still leaves hundreds of thousands of federal employees who are either furloughed or working without pay.

Now, I don’t know about you, but my finances don’t allow for working indefinitely without pay. There’s a mortgage or rent, a car payment, car and health insurance, utility bills, medical expenses, groceries. None of which respond well to, “Well, I’m not getting paid this Friday, and I have no idea when I might be paid again.” And yet, Mr. Trump has assured us that federal workers are willing to sacrifice for his beloved wall, and will adjust. If by “adjust,” he means employees will fall behind on their mortgages or risk having their cars repossessed, then yes, I suppose they will adjust.

But they shouldn’t HAVE to adjust. The lives of 800,000 workers (this time, there are more than 2 million federal employees in all) shouldn’t depend on one man’s temper tantrum about a wall that he was willing to let go until FOX News criticized him.

Really, it never should have reached this point at all. Congress should have done its job and passed a FULL budget, not a partial one, or a series of continuing resolutions. Kicking the can down the road is not a solution!

Our National Parks are being trashed by people too lazy to respect the property. Those parks are treasures, and it’s clear that people can’t be trusted to not destroy things or leave trash everywhere, unless they have proper supervision. Is it really so hard to act like a civilized human being? I’m heartened by the stories of people and businesses stepping up to remove trash and clean bathrooms. I just hate that it’s necessary.

And a government shutdown affects far more people than just federal employees. Federal employees, based on past shutdowns, can expect to *eventually get paid for the time they’ve been working without pay or furloughed. The same doesn’t hold true for employees of businesses that rely on those federal employees. Restaurants in areas where government agencies are closed, contractors that carry out government contracts, those people don’t get backpay when the government shuts down. Maybe they can use personal or vacation time to bridge that gap, assuming they have it available. Maybe not.

The longer this drags on, the direr the consequences will be. Next year, 2020, is an election year, both for the president and for many senators and representatives. Remember this. Do not let this and all the other actions by Congress and the President be swept under the rug. Yesterday, Lindsey Graham stated, “I do want to open up the government, but the goal is not to open up the government. The goal is to fix a broken immigration system to bring reality to this table.” Way to continue ignoring your constituents, Lindsey Graham. He’s up for re-election in 2020. I won’t forget this.


Goodbye 43, Hello 44

Yesterday was my 44th birthday. Once upon a time, that seemed old. Now that I’m here, I don’t *feel old. Do you ever start feeling old? I feel very introspective around this time of year, maybe related to another birthday, maybe related to the end of the year and all that comes with that. Now … Continue reading Goodbye 43,...

Yesterday was my 44th birthday. Once upon a time, that seemed old. Now that I’m here, I don’t *feel old. Do you ever start feeling old?

img width='100%' _1518

I feel very introspective around this time of year, maybe related to another birthday, maybe related to the end of the year and all that comes with that. Now you get to follow along with those thoughts.

What matters most in my life? My children. My husband. Knowing that I am doing the best I can do.

Am I putting enough effort into my relationships? No. I could definitely do more, and I intend to.

Am I living true to myself? Yes, probably more so than I ever have before. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve really stopped caring what most people think. If you’re not someone I care about, I’m not going to concern myself with your opinion.

What have I learned? That I can trust myself. Wish I’d learned that sooner.

Have I stepped out of my comfort zone? This one is hard for me. I am definitely a creature of comfort, and it’s really hard for me to break out of that. I’m trying.

What scares me? I have anxiety, so that’s a loaded question, lol. I often have 10,000 things or more than scare me. For now, we’ll go with having a newly licensed driver in the house. Turning her loose with a car is a new level of terrifying.

I’m a work in progress, which is definitely better than the alternative.

 


Looks Like We Need to Discuss Pre-Existing Conditions Again

So this past weekend, like many other Americans, I got up to the news that a federal judge in Texas ruled the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. Not because of the original law, mind you, but because Trump and his cohorts undermined it by removing the individual mandate to have health insurance. I thought this was something we didn't have to worry about for now, especially with Democrats getting the majority in the House again. Obviously, I was...

So this past weekend, like many other Americans, I got up to the news that a federal judge in Texas ruled the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. Not because of the original law, mind you, but because Trump and his cohorts undermined it by removing the individual mandate to have health insurance. I thought this was something we didn’t have to worry about for now, especially with Democrats getting the majority in the House again. Obviously, I was wrong.

So I give you this.

img width='100%' _0627

This is an injection of medication that I take every 14 days. It keeps my Crohn’s Disease under control. Not in remission, it’s been years since I’ve been in complete remission, but it keeps things stable and allows me to more or less live a normal life. It’s not a cheap medication, nor is it the only medication I use, but it’s the most expensive one. It retails for about $3,000 per month. I don’t have to pay that much, thankfully. My insurance picks up most of the tab.

Millions of Americans have pre-existing conditions. As old as some people in Congress are, I’d dare say that many of them have pre-existing conditions. This is one of THE most important protections that the ACA offers, the protection from discrimination and higher premiums for pre-existing conditions. And the Republicans are cheering that the ACA was finally ruled unconstitutional. I don’t believe for a moment, despite what they are trying to claim now, that Republicans will protect people like me in any other healthcare legislation. All you have to do is remember the past 8 years. Republicans have tried again and again to repeal the ACA, without offering protections for pre-existing conditions. Fact Check: Trump Claims GOP Will Protect People with Pre-Existing Conditions

I can only hope the fact that the Democrats will control the House will be enough to protect people like me. And probably you. Or someone you know. But damn, it’s exhausting to have to look at fighting this battle again. We’ve been here before, and I’m fully convinced that the goal is to make us so weary of fighting that we just can’t fight anymore..

At Least You Have Your Health! Not exactly.

I Don’t Know How to Explain to You that You Should Care about Other People


Wheel Covers – 3, Me – 0

My next car will have good-looking actual wheels, not wheel covers. Last week, wheel cover #3 on my Toyota Camry bit the dust. Some backstory… the first one mysteriously vanished about a year ago. No idea what happened to it. I just came out one morning, and it was gone. Cars look sad when they … Continue reading Wheel Covers – 3, Me...

My next car will have good-looking actual wheels, not wheel covers. Last week, wheel cover #3 on my Toyota Camry bit the dust. Some backstory… the first one mysteriously vanished about a year ago. No idea what happened to it. I just came out one morning, and it was gone. Cars look sad when they lose wheel covers.

So I replaced that one. Thanks, eBay!

I know what happened to the second one. The older kid hit a giant pothole during one of our driving sessions. It wasn’t an immediate victim of the pothole. No, it waited until I was driving the next day to fall off as I went around a curve, lol.

Replaced that one. Again, thanks, eBay!

The third one came off last week. But I *saw this one. I noticed it was loose, and I poked around at it, And off it came. So now I’m driving around again on a car with a missing wheel cover. And I keep forgetting to drop the broken wheel cover at the trash. And I’ve found myself explaining to more than one person why I have a wheel cover in my backseat. I should just buy a full set.img width='100%' _1448


Feminism

Merriam-Webster’s definition of feminism. 1: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes 2: organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests I am a feminist. I believe that women should have the same rights as men. The rights to choose their own careers, the rights to have or not have families, … Continue reading...

Merriam-Webster’s definition of feminism.

1: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes

2organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests

I am a feminist. I believe that women should have the same rights as men. The rights to choose their own careers, the rights to have or not have families, the rights to be paid equal pay for equal work. And it pisses me off that women have been “given” these rights, as if we should feel special for getting something we should have had all along. I support women in their choices, even if those choices may not be my own.

I had an interesting experience a couple of weeks ago that left me scratching my head. It was the first chilly morning of the season, which meant that the tire pressure monitoring system in my car freaked out. I didn’t want to deal with putting air in the tires and figuring out which tire was the problem, so I made a quick trip over to Firestone, where I knew they would check the tires for free. 

There was a woman at the counter, and I told her that I wanted to have the tires checked.

“Sure, we can do that. Do you know how to do it? If you don’t, I can show you.”

As a matter of fact, I do know how to check the air pressure in tires, and I do know how to add air. So I found myself in the position of feeling like I should explain why I didn’t do it myself. Except that “Because I didn’t want to” didn’t seem like a great explanation. 

But why not? Why isn’t that a good enough reason? Isn’t that the point of feminism, to allow women to make their own choices? So why did I feel guilty about choosing to outsource a task that I didn’t want to do myself? And why did the woman at the counter assume that I didn’t know how to check the tires?

She directed me on where to park, and she checked the tires. It was the third tire she checked that was the culprit, just tripped by the colder weather. And she gave me this, you know, so I can check my own tire pressure next time. img width='100%' _1405


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