Saturday, February 11, 2012

Q&A, Part 2

Our 12-hour round-trip journey to Fort Worth is complete. I have a house I am in LOVE (and lust) with and we've had fifteen showings of our house since Thursday late afternoon. I'm crossing every digit I have in hopes that we get a contract soon, so we can put in an offer for the most amazing house ever 5 minutes after that. Then we have to pack and move and a few other pesky to-do's I'm trying not to think about.

Because I don't want to jinx and/or put too much pressure on my budding love affair with a large, inanimate object (LOVE!), we're turning back to Q&A until I have a contract and can post some sort of "squee!" post with pictures of my new home.


Burning question: why did you and jp break up in college? I've always wanted to know, because your relationship serves as a great example for marriage, and the fact that you went through a difficult patch but managed to stay together and have such a great marriage is a true testament!

A good question- I just posed it to JP and he had absolutely no idea. My memory is that the paths we thought we were on (JP to investment banking in NYC, me to medical school in Texas) didn’t seem to include the other. I always assumed JP would switch his path and when he started interviewing with investment banks his senior year in the business school I kind of flipped out – I mean, what do you mean you’re thinking about moving to a city you know I’m not going to be living?? It never occurred to me to change my plan to better fit with his (like go to med school in any of the great schools in NY) and he didn’t think to change his to fit mine (like apply to one of the many banks in Houston or Dallas). This is what happens when two very driven people meet when they are 18 and 19 years old. So after a night of me demanding JP to not do investment banking (a ridiculous stance) and JP refusing and going home (an admittedly reasonable reaction), I decided he’d broken up with me, something he did not realize had happened until the next morning when he saw my AOL Instant Messenger away message (do you remember those? Facebook statuses didn’t even exist yet). It was a dramatic, traumatic, and tumultuous few months. I cried for about 14 days, failed 3 tests, and then got my shit together, got back to straight A’s, and dated someone else. JP developed the social life I had always had to force him to have, only to lose his shit when he found out I went on a date with someone else. Much angst, many weeks, and a kitten later, JP had an epiphany at an investment banking callback interview. Listening to the fellow i-bankers describe their schedules made him realize he’d never see me if he worked there, and he loved me and he wanted to see me as much as possible, so he wrote me a heartfelt letter (which he would no doubt be horrified to know I still have in a file in our desk, it's about 4-pages long) while on the plane ride back to Austin and then parked himself outside my apartment door every single morning for about 10 days before I finally let him in. We decided a future together was more important than any of the particulars of our individual plans.

The irony of course is that we ended up leaving Texas because of me, I didn’t go to law school after all, and JP ended up in investment banking after we got married. The break up is actually what made me question my set-in-stone med school plan and led me to law school, and we’ve had an unwavering commitment to each other- a commitment that trumps any individual plan we think we have for ourselves- ever since.

I also want to know about your gay best friend, r u still friends? Is he in a relationship?

Most definitely, though he lives in New York City now so I don't see him very often any more. And last time I checked, he's single. Rarely alone, but single.

And also, if you have any tips on getting baseboards clean! We are not moving but the baseboards in my house are my nemesis.

None! I even googled it. I vacuumed with a brush to get all the dust up and then got on my hands and knees with a magic eraser. My knees and legs are covered in bruises from kneeling on the tile- it has not been a fun project. I never noticed my baseboards before, but after obsessing over them for two days I can spot a smudge from across the room and it haunts me until I go erase it.

I know you might not have a time for a full RRA post (was that the acronym?) but if you had a top 3 either series or individual books as must-reads, what would they be? I have gone back and looked but I am always overwhelmed by how many books are listed. I am only recently discovering the genre, I used to read a lot of non-fiction but of course now I read contracts all day so I need ESCAPE.

For historical romance: Sharon Kay Penman’s Welsh tilogy (starting with Here Be Dragons- very heavily researched and fact based; a great start to the genre) and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. For paranormal romance Larissa Ione’s Daemonica series is fabulous, as is Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark. I’ve read all of those books at least four times each. Other fun reads are Nora Roberts’ Circle trilogy and Sisters of the Heart trilogy. Harry Potter is the best series I’ve ever read, ever, and the Sookie Stackhouse series is fun literary candy.

What is your system (or lack thereof) for budgeting/managing household finances? You seem to be so on top of meal planning and household organization that I'm thinking your finances are equally in order.

Constant vigilance. I have tried various programs and attempted to use spreadsheets, but our finances are pretty easy to keep track of- massive debits from the 1st to the 5th (daycare, loans, mortgage, cars) and then we charge all our other expenses on a credit card that we pay off in full at the end of each month. I check the card balance daily (an obsessive morning habit) and if it’s getting high, we just stop spending money for a few days (except for groceries and gas) until it’s a new month. Every month has its surprise expense (car repair, AC broken, etc.) so I find planning never works out all that well. We have a certain amount we expect to pay on the card for all expenses combined and we try stay under that. We also max out our 401k’s through a direct debit from our paychecks (i.e., we never see that money, which is for the best) and transfer a set amount to savings every month, which then gets transferred to the highest interest school loan. It’s not fancy, but it works.

I'm also generally curious about your school debt repayment progress, but I understand if that is too private.

Ugh, my law school loans are my greatest nemesis. Basically I graduated with about $140,000 in loans. We made some big payments while I was in school (through my summer internships, at least until I got pregnant with Landon and we saved all that money to support our family of three during 3L) and then when I graduated I put all of them on 10-year repayment plans. I could have dragged it out over 30 years because the principal was so high, but I was determined to get them GONE. My payments are nearly $2,000/month but after 3.5 years of paying we're finally making some progress on the principal. The original plan was to pay extra every month, and we have done some of that, but something has always gotten in the way of it being a regular thing- JP being in school (without paid summer internships) and then JP looking for a job for a year made for a different set of finances than we thought we'd have by the summer of 2010. But I'm glad for the short repayment plan because it's forced us to pay a high monthly amount when we might otherwise have balked and found excuses to pay less. We were nearly done paying the largest one down in the months after JP started his new job, but we've paused in order to save for a down payment for a house in Fort Worth. As I said- something always gets in the way, but someday they'll be gone, and that "raise" is going to feel so good!

Tell me more about your siblings. Then . . .now . . . whatever.

Well, I have two. My sister is 3 years younger and my brother is 5.5 years younger. My sister works in Austin and has been a great local babysitter and aunt – we’re going to miss her a lot when we move. We did not get along when we were younger (I mean seriously did NOT- growing up a girl with a prettier popular younger sister is an immensely painful process) but are good friends now. Val is outgoing, funny, and has a new boyfriend we all like a lot. Eric is in his last year of college and will graduate in May, hopefully with a job in Austin or Houston. He’s my dad’s best friend and #1 helper in all projects involving engines (boat and car), remodeling, building, lawn care, and golf. He’s an amazing athlete, was the smiliest most adorable baby, and somehow always got along equally with my sister and me.

Would love to know a little more about how you approached partners when you were looking to publish an article to help fill in your resume. I would like to take this sort of initiative, but as a brand new second year, I'm not sure whether I'm seasoned enough to initiate this without getting laughed at/dismissed out of hand. Did you come up with the article topic and present it to partners? Or did you just offer a hand in research and writing?

You definitely won’t get laughed at or dismissed. I get the headline email every day (if you don’t get this, sign up for it) and when there was a decision on something important or something else securities-related, I’d go to our securities partner and ask if we should write an article about it. I’ve never been turned down. I would also just approach a partner who works on stuff you like or have experience in and ask if he’s interested in writing an article- for a publication or to be sent around for clients. You’ll do all the legwork and the first draft, s/he’ll edit, and then it will be published with their name first. It’s a great way to augment your resume, online profile, and visibility within the firm.

Is your new job with the SEC or is that an acronym for a different firm? Now I'm confused.

Yep, I'll be an enforcement attorney with the SEC (the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, not the Southeastern Conference, to the disappointment of a few of my friends and family).


Alright, just one more part to go! I haven't re-read or proof-read any of this, so please forgive the probably plentiful typos. My eyes are crossed I'm so tired, so it's off to bed, then yoga, then an open house and many more showings tomorrow. At some point I hope to actually be in our house for a few minutes over the weekend so we can grocery shop and otherwise prepare for the work week ahead.

Six weeks from today and we'll be driving a moving van over 200 miles NE to Fort Worth. (Hopefully to the beautiful new object of my housing affection. SQUEE! Wait, shhh, no jinxing.)


  1. I can identify with the sister thing! I had a sister 2 years and 4 months younger, and we did not get on at all either, but now we're good friends.

    I inherited my father's body type(short, muscular, short legs). Good in the water, and terrible at running.

    My sister got the long-distance runner genes so was taller with longer legs and ate what she like, fitted standard sized clothes without hemming, stayed thin and won cross-country.

    That 2-3 year age gap can be tricky. I know it's been great for you - I wonder if Landon being used to sharing attention at Daycare from the beginning has made that easier? Or maybe it's just him?

  2. My sister is 4 years younger and I had the same problems with her. I was always jealous of her because she is gorgeous, taller, and very popular. I learned only later that she was always jealous of me because I got better grades and always had a job, etc. It's funny that we both were jealous of each other and never knew it.

    I hope someone makes an offer on your home. Buying a new house is so exciting! I hope you get the one you want!

  3. Thanks for answering my question! Hope the ahhhhmazing house becomes your house some time soon :)

  4. I've also tried various spreadsheets and things, but nothing has stuck. I like the idea of checking my credit card balance every day and monitoring spending that way. Our daycare bill and most of our utilities (including oil heat, which in the winter is a huge expense) go on our credit card, so the number always frightens me at the end of the month -- maybe seeing it daily will help me understand what we're spending money on and help keep it in check.

  5. Delurking to say if you ever get a chance to speak to how you do your organizing, my hubby and I would love to "hear" it! I read him a bit of a post a while back about you cleaning out all of our closets because I knew it would mystify him as much as it does me! (Clearly, as I look around our house, organizing, storage solutions, etc are not our strong suite!)
    So, maybe another q&a when you're up to it: What's your methodology for the task of organizing things like your closets or storage areas? How do you avoid being a pack rat like us?! Is it about not getting too sentimental about stuff or perhaps just having better/more efficient ways of organizing it? Clueless people over here!


  6. I am so envious of your student loan payment plan. I wish I'd had the ability/courage to get on the 10 year plan.

    I also had never heard of that headline email or really considered writing a legal article - which is interesting because I did an entire, published research project in college. Thanks for all the inspiration!

    I know this is late - I also just moved and life has been out of control. Hope all is going well in your move/changes!