Yup, the inevitable has come at least: My husband has been laid off.
I can't say it was a surprise- actually it was a relief after nearly a year of being yo-yoed by his former employer, the bank that owned our house, family members, and the economy- I can finally say we're free.
We don't own a house, we don't have a job, our bankruptcy is almost done with, and we have unemployment benefits, savings ( that we've squirreled away since this hell started a year ago), a full chest freezer and 4 3f by 5 ft pantries crammed to the brimming with canned book and dry staple goods I have been hoarding like an OCD hamster. So overall, I can say we will be OK for right now.
The only things we really buy from the store in a regular basis were eggs, milk, chocolate, sugar, canning jars, and odds n ends, and thankfully the kids qualify for WIC so theres the milk and eggs. Starting next month CA WIC finally changes over to the new healthier program, so they will nwo offer whole grains such as brown rice or whole wheat tortillas, vouchers for fruits and vegetables ( even organic!) and more options for dried or canned beans/lentils instead of peanut butter. Hooray! I get a little bit of money here and there for speaking gigs, friends buying the Jam I make and hopefulyl soon a few odd jobs some friends have offered to my husband. I've gotten quite good at Pinching a penny till Abe Lincoln cries ( thanks for that quote Kathe!). Our grocery bill for a family of 4 is around 300 a month, I think lately its been a little more with buying produce and canning jars in the summer. In California thats quite an achievement to be proud of.
Chris and I have been talking in earnest about possibly moving out of state where its cheaper, quieter, and life is less hectic, but we didnt have a clue where- being we've been in California our entire lives. This summer when we were in Missouri for a wedding we both kinda fell in love with the areas we drove thru: its was green, had trees, land prices were way cheaper, and somehow our blood pressure was considerably lower there even with the drama of a family wedding, our 2 small kids and knowing the clock on Chris job was running. So this week when I kinda just sat down, looked outside at the hot dry brown landscape that is SoCal in the summer and said "Man, why can't we just move somewhere else in the country" Chris actually agreed with me. He's really over California and is curious to live elsewhere and have a different lifestyle.
What a huge weight off my shoulders! I wasnt just a crazy wife wanting to drag my husband away, he seriously looked like he's also had enough of our states stupid budget, the politicians, the celebrities, lack of rainfall, crazy electric prices, even crazyer home prices, and the starbucks on ever frigging corner...the list goes on and on. I love the beautiful view of the San Gabriel mountains from our windows- but now that view is oftentimes obscurred with smog and the blob of urban sprawl keeps climbing up the foothills. Gone are the citrus groves, the vineyards, the windbreaks of eucalytus trees, wandering sheep herds, blooming yucca plants like giant candles in the moonlight. This area no longer feels unique- you can find almost exact copies of the housing tracts and shopping malls all over SoCal.
I tried to look and see how much renting a small home with a little bit of land ( an acre or less) around it was, and even a piece of crap house in a terrible area with an acre of land is renting for 2,000-2,200 a month. No thanks.
We've lost so much in the last year, but in return we've gained something precious: freedom. As weird as it may sound, the world is our oyster for a moment, if we can find a job somewhere else thats stable and meets the cost of living in the area, we're good. Problem is in this economy having a college degree and years of experience isnt the golden ticket to a happy middle class lifestyle like it used to be. So all we can do right now is plan, research, and look for work across the country.
I know some people would think I'm nutts for wanting to leave, I mean this place has everything, a baseball stadium down the street, a NASCAR racetrack in Fontana, a bunch of colleges nearby, 3 malls within a 30 minute drive, 40 minutes to the closest ski area, an hour from the beach, 90 minutes to wine country, an hour to downtown LA and that street scene- but we don't really care! LOL
What do we both want at this point in our lives?
* Peace and quiet. NO big rigs honking, sirens constantly from the freeway and streets, people and their pimped out cars with a subwoofer blaring the base for a mile around them. Car alarms, helicopters, drunk idiots walking home, airport traffic, I'm sick of never having silence not even in the middle of the night.
*Less Traffic- it shouldnt take 2 hours to do 20 miles, but at 5pm on a Friday, thats the minimum drive time. If you need to take the 91 or the 101, double that time. Even to cross the city of Rancho Cucamonga, which is like, 7 miles? Takes me an average of 25 minutes up one street. Yes I've been timing it. With nearly 250,000 people living in a 10 mile radius, theres almost always some traffic, and its worse with all the street expansions and new contruction going on.
*S-P-A-C-E: I hate seeing these new homes so close together you sneeze and your next door neighbor hears you from inside their house. I don't want to hear them arguing, watching TV, or having sex either when all I want is the windows open for some air.
*Privacy: goes hand in hand with space. I want to be able to walk outside, tend a garden, sit and read a book on a porch, or have a BBQ without 20 people being able to see me or hear me outside. I've heard strong fences make good neighbors, but an acre of distance would sure help it as well.
*Seasons: so far here we get wind, fires, floods, and 100+ heat. At any time of the year, and sometimes in the same week. I've had pool parties on my birthday (Jan 3) because it was 95 degrees. I've never watched the leaves turn to shades of red and gold, seen frost make lace on the windows, or looked for the first snowdrops of the spring. Thins other states take for granted. The days blend into each other and don't change much and somehow my body just feels tired and confused. Yes the sunshine is nice, but the sound of rain falling as I sleep is the sweetest therapy ever. As much as I hate cold, I would put up with snow so a hearty hot soup or stew is that much better, and so I'd appreciate spring more. Yes theres blizzards and tornados, but here we get earthquakes and santa ana winds. Its give and take, no place is perfect.
*Land: I don't want a landscaped front lawn, or a backyard or a cul de sac lot, I want land. At least an acre or 2. Room for a well planed intensively planted fruit orchard, a sustainable tree area for firewood, a large compost area, a vegetable garden, a berry patch, Bees, space for a couple of egg laying chickens or ducks and agoat or 2 for milk someday down the road round out my American dream nicely.
to be continued.......