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United-States/South-Carolina

 

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  • Amy Polen
  • December 14, 2017 06:02:55 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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Push/Pull of Life

I was a military wife for many years… no longer, we didn’t get divorced, just left the life, lol. The husband has gone on to other jobs, which have involved some travel, but not nearly as much as the active duty Navy lifestyle. Some years, he’s been gone a lot, while other years have only … Continue reading Push/Pull of...

I was a military wife for many years… no longer, we didn’t get divorced, just left the life, lol. The husband has gone on to other jobs, which have involved some travel, but not nearly as much as the active duty Navy lifestyle. Some years, he’s been gone a lot, while other years have only had one or two week-long trips. Even though he still has to travel for work, there are perks to being a civilian. Such as being able to cut short a trip and fly home when when there’s an emergency. Phone calls. Facebook. We didn’t even have reliable email during his Navy days.

So having seen both sides, I can definitively say that it still sucks. It’s stressful. On him. On me. On our kids. Some trips are less stressful than others. For example, it’s easier to deal with being in the same time zone than dealing with being 15 hours apart. There are actually some common emotional stages that go along with military deployments, and to a lesser extent, longer civilian business trips. It just took me a little while to recognize it.

I thought we had left that part behind. Guess not. The good news is, if you recognize yourself in those emotions, just know that you’re not crazy. At least not for that reason, lol.

 

 


Has It Really Been Six Years?

It’s hard to believe that it’s been six years since we moved to South Carolina, but Facebook Memories assures me that’s true, by showing me pictures of boxes and bubble wrap. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure we’d still be here in 2019. I’ve learned a lot in that time, about myself and about others. … Continue reading Has It Really Been...

It’s hard to believe that it’s been six years since we moved to South Carolina, but Facebook Memories assures me that’s true, by showing me pictures of boxes and bubble wrap. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure we’d still be here in 2019. I’ve learned a lot in that time, about myself and about others.

It’s not easy to move. This was the first move we’ve made that didn’t have a built-in network of military families, and it took a while to find my footing here. We lived in Connecticut for 12 years, the longest we’ve lived anywhere together. It was hard to leave, and I found out whom my friends are. Whom? Who? Even I, the self-professed grammar perfectionist, have trouble with that one, lol.

But I’ve found myself. Maybe that would have happened if we stayed in Connecticut, maybe not. I stumbled into a job I enjoy, and I’ve developed a pretty decent resume. I’ve figured out what matters to me. I know the trend is that people tend to become more conservatives as they age. That’s not me, lol. And you know what? I won’t apologize for that. We landed in possibly the only part of South Carolina where I won’t suffocate, although I’m not convinced I can do the long haul here.

South Carolina doesn’t give a damn about its residents. That’s not opinion, that’s fact. This state has consistently demonstrated that. Everything from trying to force Planned Parenthood out, to refusing to expand healthcare options for people, to being so proud of the lack of regulations on businesses here that power companies are allowed to bilk customers out of billions (yes, BILLIONS) of dollars. Hell, they don’t even have lights on interstates here. The junction of I-95 and I-26 has no lights. Hello, major interstate? Might help people navigate safely if it had a few lights. But no, they’d rather blame the trees for car accidents. So I don’t know how long I can last in a state like this. We’ll see.

On the other hand, South Carolina has its moments. For a state that’s the butt of all jokes with education, I really think my kids have gotten a much more well-rounded education than they could have gotten in Connecticut. The options in high school in this district are amazing. Dance, photography, culinary arts, foreign languages, forensic science… those were never options in the Dark Ages when I was in high school. Yes, I’m a little jealous.

Sunsets here are stunning. I’m not sure why, not sure what makes this particular latitude and longitude so special, but sunsets are beautiful here. I adore the winters here. It’s February, and yesterday, it was 80 degrees. We have leaves on some trees, and dogwoods are starting to bloom. I’m not meant to be cold. Yes, they have no idea what to do with ice and snow here, but that doesn’t happen often. The beaches make me smile, especially since the water gets so warm. In New England, they pretend the ocean water is warm at 70 degrees, which, just between you and me, is still wet-suit temperature. Here, it hits a toasty 85 degrees or so.

Bloom where you’re planted. It’s something I try to adhere to, although admittedly, it’s sometimes difficult.


No One Owes You a Baby

You may have seen this post floating around Facebook recently. https://www.facebook.com/joshua.feuerstein.5/photos/a.443484622420892/1665338713568804/?type=3&theater&ifg=1 It’s infuriating, and it took me a while to put my finger on exactly why it angers me so much. Let’s start with the obvious. No one is “owed” a baby, and that’s exactly what posts like this imply. I have a lot of … Continue reading No One Owes You...

You may have seen this post floating around Facebook recently.

https://www.facebook.com/joshua.feuerstein.5/photos/a.443484622420892/1665338713568804/?type=3&theater&ifg=1

It’s infuriating, and it took me a while to put my finger on exactly why it angers me so much. Let’s start with the obvious. No one is “owed” a baby, and that’s exactly what posts like this imply. I have a lot of sympathy for couples who deal with infertility or have other reasons why a woman can’t give birth to a child, but that doesn’t make it someone else’s responsibility to solve the problem. It doesn’t make it MY responsibility.

One, if I decide to have an abortion, that’s none of anyone’s business, aside from my spouse. I don’t have to ask permission. I don’t have to give a reason (more easily done with an early abortion than a later one).

Two, posts like the above make it seem like women have never considered the option of adoption. Really? You don’t give females enough credit. I’m pretty sure that every female who’s been faced with an unplanned pregnancy (or even a planned one, in some cases) knows her options. Have an abortion. Have a baby and keep it. Have a baby and allow someone else to adopt it. Those are the options. We females do have brains, and most of us know how to use them.

Three, the argument of “Give it up for adoption!” presumes that the woman is willing to go through pregnancy. That’s 40 weeks. That’s a long time to put your life on hold for anything. There are medical concerns. Pregnancy is not without risk, and not just minor risk. Women have died during childbirth, even with modern medicine. Personally speaking, I have a medical condition that, combined with my age, automatically makes me high-risk for pregnancy. Some women, including myself, don’t want to be pregnant. Period. And that’s reason enough. I don’t want any more kids, and I don’t want to be pregnant again. Ever. Someone else wanting a baby doesn’t mean that I (or anyone) has a responsibility to give them one.


You Might Be a Bad Neighbor If…

We’ve usually not had great luck with neighbors. Oh, we’ve had *some good neighbors. Like the people who lived directly across from us in Connecticut, who helped me shovel feet of snow out of the driveway more than once. And the super nice person who saw me carrying in groceries when I was a million … Continue reading You Might Be a Bad...

We’ve usually not had great luck with neighbors. Oh, we’ve had *some good neighbors. Like the people who lived directly across from us in Connecticut, who helped me shovel feet of snow out of the driveway more than once. And the super nice person who saw me carrying in groceries when I was a million months pregnant with our first child, and insisted on carrying them all inside for me.

Unfortunately, most of the rest? Not so great.

When we lived in an apartment complex in Virginia, someone hit our car in the parking lot. Not just a little scratch or anything. Two sizable dents that required a few days at the repair shop and some insurance money.

We lived in a number of apartments and homes during our time in Connecticut, so that’s why there were so many examples there. It’s fun to open your front door to a police officer who asks, “Did you hear a commotion from next door?” We did.

When we bought a house, we acquired a few not-great neighbors. One being right next door, after our real estate agent assured us, “Oh, there are only a few cats.” Right. More like 25. The owner was charged with animal cruelty, and the house was condemned by the city.

Across the street and down one house, there was a rental house (part of the reason we were so hesitant to rent out our house later!). That house was home to a string of bad neighbors. I called 911 for the first time in my life, when several of them got into a brawl on the front lawn. A couple of months after that, there was an unmarked van that pulled up in front of the house, and several police officers raided the house. I got quite the education on drug dealing from those neighbors. They moved out almost immediately after.

The next neighbors weren’t much better. Two adults, one kid, and one untrained dog. The mom yelled. A lot. At everyone. The kid wandered. The kid occasionally showed up at our door to ask for a ride to school. The kid also was pretty rude and bossy. I wasn’t a fan. Then they got a dog. They didn’t train the dog. They didn’t leash the dog. The dog sometime appeared in our yard and ran after my terrified-of-dogs child. We eventually moved.

We’ve lived in an apartment complex in South Carolina for almost 6 years now. Some of our neighbors are really nice. Others, not so much. For all the talk about how southerners have manners, some people seem to have misplaced them. I’ve come out to leave a couple of times, only to find my car blocked in by someone who parked in a “No Parking” area. A previous neighbor across the breezeway had a controlling boyfriend, and kicked him out a few times. Once, she threw his Xbox over the balcony and set all his clothes outside. He returned the favor by banging on her door repeatedly for hours at a time. The courtesy police officer who lives on the premises paid them more than one visit. Eventually, she changed the locks and booted him out for good, and then she moved out shortly after.

Currently, we don’t have any absolutely terrible neighbors. However, we still have neighbors who hog all the parking (you don’t have to park all three of your cars in the row closest to the building!). Our downstairs neighbors have surround sound, apparently. I shouldn’t feel the bass through my couch.

At least one neighbor lets his dog out without a leash. I encountered said dog Saturday when I was coming up the stairs with my arms full of groceries. I don’t care if your dog is friendly. I don’t care if he won’t hurt anyone. I don’t want to be greeted on the stairs landing by a loose dog. I see bags of trash outside, in front of apartment doors. I get it, it’s a bit of a walk to the dumpster. But when you leave it outside, it’s an invitation to the animals for a free meal, and I don’t want raccoons congregating outside my apartment. For that matter, throw away your fast food wrappers, instead of just dropping them wherever the mood strikes. The world is not your trash can.

Maybe I’m asking too much, but I don’t think so.

 

 

 

 


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.


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