Wednesday, January 30, 2013


This has been a very busy week. I have five active investigations and will be taking testimony four times in the next 3 weeks. I stayed late at work Monday and Tuesday nights, arriving home at the shockingly late hour of 7:30, to the very minor irritation of JP and the complete disgust of my children. On Monday I was met with wails and tears and "where have you beens?!" and accusing tales of eating dinner with ONLY THREE OF US AT THE TABLE WHERE WERE YOU HOW COULD YOU. By Tuesday my arrival was barely acknowledged while they showered affection on their dad who was buried under them on Claire's twin bed reading books. This morning I tried to sneak out of the house at 6:45 before anyone woke up, planning to get my extra hours in early and be home before dinner, but as I went to open the side door, I looked up to discover a disheveled Claire standing tall and silent in her judgment, framed in the kitchen entryway, pink blankie, baby, and kitty in her hands, glaring at me in shocked disapproval.

I'm happy to report that I returned to their good graces this evening with my prompt arrival at 5:15 p.m. and participation in a nice family dinner. I realized two things in this week of overwhelming case work: (1) since JP and I can't afford date nights, never travel, and are always home together by 5:30, family dinners have achieved sacred status for our children and despite their horror at my absence this week, nothing could make me happier; and (2) clearly they remember nothing from my schedule in Austin and that makes me happy too.


As I've alluded to a few (dozen) times, the Lag Liv family is on a budget. A budget that up until this month, we'd always passed by on day 20 or 21 of our 31 day budgetary credit card cycle, so it's been more aspiration than reality. We're trying, really trying, but the holidays and things like broken water heaters and the kids' feet constantly growing keep getting in the way. But finally, this past month, we were going to make it under by $200. From December 27th to January 25th we bought not one single thing besides groceries, a doctor copay for me, a small indulgence in a Mexican restaurant happy hour ($23 for 2 margaritas, queso, tortillas, and 2 entrees- worth every freaking penny on that particular Friday), and a trip to Costco to replenish all the household items we were suddenly out of because I can't be trusted in Target anymore. We can't follow such austerity measures every month, but my god we were going to make it this time! And then I got home early on the evening of the 25th, one day before the billing cycle closed, to join the family in a nice long walk before dinner. We bent down to put on Tex's leash and discovered a... wetness, an odor, a virulent flesh eating bacteria that had eaten away half of my dog's throat. Only a slight exaggeration and of course it had to happen the day before our triumphant fiscal month was to close. One trip to the emergency vet later and we had a nice $200 bill and a freshly shaved dog on three kinds of antibiotics. Because, of course.

(Tex is fine and never seemed bothered by the infection ravaging his throat. He has healed up nicely and remains thrilled with the extra attention the administration of two topical antibiotics requires; he also appears pleased with his new avant garde hairstyle.)


I've read three books in the last four days, because that is what I do when I'm stretched and overwhelmed on every front: Again the Magic, Lady Sophia's Lover, and Worth Any Price, all by Lisa Kleypas. Again the Magic was my favorite; if you've read the Wallflowers series, you must read that one- it's basically a prequel that tells the story of Lord Westcliff's older sister, Lady Aline. Worth Any Price was a very close second favorite. All three have stolen all my sleep. I had to give in to glasses today because my eyes were too bloodshot for contacts this morning. In so many areas of my life I have extraordinary self-discipline; in reading, I have absolutely none. I suppose there are worse addictions, but I did not think so when my alarm went off at 5:45 this morning after reading till 2.


JP has an offer to start a swim school in Fort Worth through the local USS club team's head coach. The club wants it to exist and will support it however they can, but it would be JP's to own and run. It should be his dream opportunity. And yet his voice doesn't have any inflection when he talks about it. That stubborn against-all-odds enthusiasm that I'm realizing now was such an essential, elemental part of him seems completely snuffed out. Today I found myself verbally smacking down all of his dream killer objections to the idea - he was me, I was him - and I felt near tears by the end of our phone call, a feeling I seem to have after most of our phone calls lately. In-person is better, except sometimes when it's worse, and while there are so many moments of complete normalcy and laughter and flirting and happiness, so much of the whole job situation continues to suck so much I have lately wanted to hide in my office with the door closed for much of the day. I don't, but only through sheer will and a lot of acting to maintain the bright, sunny reputation I developed so genuinely my first several months here.


The weather jumped above 70 for two random days early this week, so I told the kids they could pick out short-sleeve shirts. At my notice (i.e. yelling down the hall to their room), I heard Landon exclaim, "Claire! You can wear your puppy shirt!!" and heard her scream of excitement in return. A friend of mine from Austin was in town a few months ago and brought along a few of her daughter's hand-me-downs. She knew of Claire's preference (insistence) on wearing shirts with animals on them, so she culled her stack down accordingly. Included among them is a light blue summer shirt with a puppy on it. I had no idea of her love for this shirt, but apparently she and Landon talk about it quite a bit. On that Monday morning when I stepped out of the shower and into my bedroom, I found a half-dressed Claire, bent over the shirt carefully spread out on the floor before her, saying, "Hello Puppy! Your ears are SO soft!", as she softly stroked its ear. Remembering that moment made me smile all day.


We took the kids to the TCU v. UT men's and women's swim meet. I love college dual meets- they're fast and spirited and so much fun. Diving competes too and you can watch both at the same time in the adjoining pools. We assumed the kids would only last a few minutes (a prediction Landon fulfilled), but Claire was ALL over it.

After 45 minutes I finally scooped her up to go home so I could start a late dinner (JP was staying for the whole meet) and she started sobbing on the way out the door. I asked what was wrong and she said, "But I was gonna swim too!" I think she genuinely believed she was going to do her floats and her kicks to the applause of the whole natatorium. Oh, to be 2.


  1. I can relate to the overwhelm - I've read every Julia Quinn Kindle has to offer, along with the (published today) Arm Candy - Celebity Escort!

    It sounds like JP may be in need of a shot of joyfulness and playfulness, or being part of a team of buddies rather than going it solo - whatever feeds his Mojo.

    I know from what you've written that he's the last person to ask for money to be spent on things for him - but perhaps it might be worth giving yourself two weeks less grace with the mortgage if there's something that lets him be the old JP - whatever that might be - a Masters swim meet, or a seminar on something - on business planning, or sports physiology or something or a trip to hang out with a friend (it sounds like he might be quite isolated what with no family, and having lost a close friend with the last swim school)

    I know for myself, when I get down, and depressed, unable to reach out - the being my old self comes around when I go dancing, or have to give a speech (Toastmasters helped me - being with people in a quasi business situation, and having to speak up, think on my feet, make presentations - that helped, and because I was unemployed I had the free time to make quick progress).

    Even though those things cost money, they were worth it to help break out of a funk.

    Anyway - none of this might work for you, but good luck with it all! And it sounds like Claire has inherited her parents swimming competitiveness and tenacity!

  2. The "puppy shirt" just about killed me. SO much love for these kids I've never met!

  3. I hardly ever comment but have read you for years, since Chicago. Just wanted to chime in and second what RJ said about JP needing a shot of joyfulness. I was unemployed for 6 months in 2012 and it is just emotionally debilitating, and it's really really hard to keep your "chin up." I really really appreciated when my husband let our budget go, so I could do something special, even if it was just a movie.

    Anyways, I hope that the swim school works out and helps lift JP's spirits. I remember how disappointed you guys where when it didn't happen before.

    1. I think for JP, swimming is his joy. Which is why, every time he says he should quit masters and save the monthly fee, he is met with absolute refusal on my end. We will sell our house and all my shoes before I allow that to happen. For the other little things- a lunch date, a movie, etc- we do them, but in a lot of ways they make him feel worse afterward. He hates (HATES) that he is not contributing financially, no matter how much I try to remind him that he is contributing in every other way and the kids have no idea who makes what and just know that they get picked up first at school by a daddy who plays with them all afternoon, but the paycheck issue is a much bigger part of his perceived self-worth than I ever realized.

      I think, this time, it's all just deeper. It's the natural realization that hey, maybe I won't be a millionaire by age 30 like business school led me to believe, while also being genuinely uncertain of what he wants his path to be, while also currently feeling like he's not on any path at all. And though he enjoys all the fun things we do (because we do still do them- we're just not buying much and unlike me, there's nothing he seems to even want to buy), the sadness is always there underneath and it's painful to know that whatever we're doing, a part of his mind is running on an endless loop of "what am I going to do? What if I can't find anything to do? What do I even want to do?"

      Luckily, opportunities seem like they're starting to emerge, so I'm hopeful this is the low point. It's just really low.

  4. I'm so sorry you're going through this extended tough time.

    I love that the kids had talked about the puppy shirt, and they both got so excited that Claire had the opportunity to wear it. So cute. I'm looking forward to my boys actually being able to talk to each other!

  5. I was getting ready to ask for more book recommendations. My mother suprised me with a kindle for Christmas and OHMYGOD!!! I have never been so happy with a present! My husband has been fussing at me because before the kindle I had kept my reading at a normal level. Now, he comes home and if I'm reading he can have a whole conversation with me and at the end, I look up and go, "Huh? Did you say something? Wait, when did you get here??"

    After a few all-nighters to finish a series (I should know better than to start a series on a weekday), he finally sent me an e-card that says, "I sometimes pretend to myself that I have insomnia. When what I really have is a good book and inadequate respect for tomorrow."

    Now, I'm off to buy more books for my kindle. I've been so proud of myself. I've had it for a month and of the 27 books I've "purchased" I only had to pay for 6 of them - and they were in the 99 cent range. Of course, this means I've been reading a lot historical romance crap, but it feeds the habit.

  6. My husband and I spent two years retooling our lives. It took him at least a year to finally embrace the idea that his paycheck and job title were not the equivalent of him as a person, but rather someone else's idea of who he was. If that makes sense! I think men, in particular, identify a little too closely with a paycheck and job title for self worth and a sense of purpose. I also had times where I just didn't want to talk to him because it hurt so much to hear the hurt in his voice. Change is really hard, but we all come out on the other side of it sooner or later. We ended up moving our family from Washington state to San Antonio for new jobs and a new start. It's all working out!

    And it will all work out for you guys, too!

  7. My husband was the straight A, valedictorian, perfect SAT score, over involved in extracurricular high school and college student. He was always told he was smart and could do "anything" and he's found it very difficult to define what that is and even when he does to deal with the real world reality of the job market in which the "best" or "smartest" person doesn't necessarily succeed. It's been really rough on him so I can relate. I wish after this time I had a solution to how to make him feel like his self image is not tied up with career success, but I don't - I know only that being there for him and encouraging him even when it's hard is about the only thing that seems to make him feel better about things for a little while.

  8. Maybe he could look at the school as something 'temporary'- not that it has to be if it turns out he loves it, but...knowing that he's not locked in may make it easier to commit for the short term while he's still figuring out what path he wants to be on long-term.

  9. I wish I had advice for you on the job thing, but it's good that the swim school thing came up! Good for you on the budgeting. I really REALLY need to do that. I spend way too much money and have no savings, but I also have no discipline (other than never using Credit Cards).

  10. LL: what do you think of the swim school idea? Do you think JP will be happy would be happy doing that (if not for the lack of immediate $$$-remuneration)? It is so, so hard to find a job/career that you really enjoy and find satisfaction in. And, of course there's risk there, but there is also something really awesome about having your own business and not being at the mercy of "corporate decision-making" (for lack of a better term). I like JP so much from your description of him and with his passion, energy & smarts, I'm sure the swim school would be a success.

  11. I too was let go from a large corporation located in Austin on September 5 (what a coincidence!) after almost 24 years of service. I can relate to JP and the "what am I going to do?" question. It really haunted me for several months until I decided to take my husband's advice and "do what you really want to do and like". I do feel fortunate to have his support and I am sure JP feels that way about you although he may not be able to show it all the time. Once I started really exploring my interests I decided to get my real estate license. The course has given me a real lift as I am learning new things that I am truly interested in. IT was never that interesting to me and I am thankful I was finally set free from that and the corporate crap that only seems to get worse and worse as time goes by. I have just passed my first exam with a mark of 100%! Things always do work out in the end and everything happens for a reason - we don't always know at the time but it has prove true since my mother told me this many, many years ago. I don't even know exactly what I want to do with real estate yet but there are many opportunities to consider once I am licensed. I just wanted to say that I have walked JP's path and you are doing all the right things in helping and supporting him. We are celebrating our 25th anniversary this year and I can tell you that we went through some pretty tough times through the years but getting through those times together made stronger and closer. It will all work out but not knowing how or when is hard I understand.

    Hang in there.


  12. Tried your mom's verm salad yesterday and it was awesome. Thanks for the recipe. Now the Mexican cheesecake AND verm salad are in the family cookbook!

  13. Just read "Again the Magic" on your recommendation, and loved it, thanks! I've been reading the wallflower books in Spanish translations to practice and highly recommend it, if you have ever studied Spanish ro another language. It allows me to feel like I am learning while still reading escapist fluff reading. Plus, it makes the reading go a bit slower, which makes the books last longer.

    Good luck to JP. It sounds like you are doing a great job supporting him through this rough patch, and I hope it is over soon!