Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Assessing, Reassessing

I came home from work one day last week and asked JP, "what would it take for you to start your own company?" He looked at me blankly. "No, really, what would we need to do?"

And I was serious. I've always had this idea that a nice steady job at Big Company Corp. would be a risk free, if not always thrilling career path. You do your hours, you look to your family and after-work hobbies for your extra satisfaction in life, and you collect your paycheck that someone has processed for you. But then JP worked at Big Company Corp., and worked very hard for Big Company Corp., and received excellent reviews, bonuses, and commendations from Big Company Corp., and then out of nowhere he and several thousand other people got cut from Big Company Corp. And that could happen again any time. My co-worker's dad just got cut from his job of 30 years at age 58, what is he supposed to do now? Not so steady, dependable, or risk-free.

So, I asked JP, what would we need to do? Sell our house and live smaller? Consolidate our grad school loans and stretch them out for 20 years instead of the 10 we've been paying on? Trade in our cars for older ones with much lower payments? Have me go back to a firm for a few years? Because I would do any and all of that tomorrow if he had a plan.

And as happens so often in our marriage, once he finally got me on board, he's now preaching caution and moderation and "maybe I should get another job and learn more before I branch out on my own." Which yes, please do, but I'm done thinking that a company job is the risk and financially stress-free path I thought it was. When he's ready, I'll be ready. Er. I'll be ready-er.


Mondays are bad days. The weekends are lovely, but then on Monday JP spends a day sitting at his desk staring at his computer searching and willing job postings to appear before him. Monday evening found me pacing the house in search of a cookie. I paused partway through rummaging the pantry to ask myself, "am I even hungry? What am I doing? I never eat dessert after dinner and I already know we don't have any cookies. What is this?" And I realized, I was sad. I was sad and it seemed that perhaps a cookie would make me feel better.

I've never been an emotional eater- in fact, emotional upheaval has always sent me in the other direction- angry tummy, can't eat, forcing food down because I'm getting dizzy. But I realized sadness has always been accompanied by something stressful and it's the stress that messes with my appetite, and once I projected our family's financial solvency out to 6+ months, stress took a backseat. My sadness has never been distilled to only itself. JP was just so down, it was the moment I feared since the minute he said his job had been cut. It's not a tragedy, there are worse situations, and it's not that he or we are like that all the time. But that moment- that shitty, I haven't found anything, what if I don't find anything? feeling of general down-ness, I don't know how to fix that. And maybe it's not my job to fix it, but it sucks. I hate seeing someone I love hurt. The cookie, had we even had one, would not have helped.


We had our realtor come over on Sunday to walk through the house and pull comps to give us a potential list price. In my list of plans and contingency plans for the next 3 months of our life, moving is involved in all but one of them. JP has applied for jobs in Seattle, San Francisco, and Fort Worth. Seattle and San Francisco would obviously involve moves (moves to downtown rented condos, yay!), but Fort Worth might too. There's another downtown neighborhood I adore that didn't have any homes listed when we were looking. It feeds to a fabulous elementary school (better than ours actually) and is 2 miles closer to downtown. The homes are about 20 years older, about 1,000 square feet smaller, and $100,000 cheaper. I fell in love with a 3 bed, 1 bath, 1500 square foot (gorgeous) bungalow and would have put down an offer that day if I knew we'd stay in Fort Worth. Along with first section I wrote above, I'm in a downsizing mood. We don't need 2800 square feet, I don't think anyone does. It's nice- I love this house and our neighborhood, but if a smaller home will give us greater financial flexibility, or would give JP a business opportunity he wouldn't otherwise have, or allow us to pay down grad school debt to open up more career paths in the future, I'm all for doing it. What matters is the 4 of us are together; home is any walls we live within.

And who knows, maybe we'll stay in this house forever, but I no longer have a set plan for much of anything. And oddly enough, it's incredibly comforting to know the number of changes we could make, how fluid we could be, to adapt to whatever is needed. I fall asleep, tucked within JP's arms, thinking of the possibilities.


  1. Thinking good thoughts for you and JP

  2. I've been thinking along similar lines - and was going to ask you if you'd thought about self-employment being more secure - if you have several clients, then one firing you, means you have several others to keep going with.

    So does this mean that JP's job search becomes not - what is my next "MBA worthy" job, but "what job can I take that will give me the best grounding in running my own small/growing company in the future (and bring in enough money to balance the household budget/save for company development).

    After all, you only need one of you to have a job that comes with decent health benefits! And it sounds like you won't be wanting to work for organisations that don't offer that, so you'll have that sorted.

    You're awesome and adaptable, and you'll do well whatever happens, because fundamentally you're resilient.

  3. So much upheaval in such a short time.

    What did the realtor say -- if you have to move, will you be able to recoup the renovation costs?

  4. I've read your blog for a very long time, several years, and I just think the way you handle everything speaks very highly of your character. You and JP have such a strong foundation and the way in which you handle all of the challenges that life throws your way is just incredible. My husbands parents have recently boarded the crazy train (or maybe they were always on it and we just didn't realize) and I am trying so hard to think about what you did and it's so hard not just shake these people and realize that they're driving their son away.

    I know it's weird since I'm an internet stranger, but I definitely look up to you.

  5. I don't know if you read or follow Penelope Trunk, but just yesterday she posted that she is doing a seminar on starting your own business ( The price seems reasonable, so it might be worth the time and money for JP to explore what creating his own company might be like and if it might be a viable path for him.

    Best of luck to you both!

  6. Yes! I'm loving this post, and totally think that JP should take the leap. Because the opinions of random people on the internet are important! :) The reason I'm all for it is because there are a few similarities between his situation and mine: mainly having a spouse with full benefits who earns enough to support the family, being smart and competent and sick as HELL of having to convince someone of this yet again feeling like I'm begging to be permitted to exercise these gifts, and having young children and their needs to somehow figure in to the mix.

    I've decided that I am DONE with that. Done. I'm choosing to do the do the work that I want to do (which for me means being an alternative transportation advocate and blogging on these issues in our community), and not seeking validation or a paycheck from someone else. JP would obviously be looking in completely different directions than me, but it has been so intensely freeing to saying "screw it" to the job search and just DOING the work that I want to do.

    Godspeed as you figure it out. I can't wait to see where this journey leads your family.

  7. I was going to ask about the whole starting a business thing because I remembered that he was an entrepreneur at heart. Glad to see it's at least on the table.

  8. I love this post. I love that you guys are thinking outside the (big company) box and the downsizing. I'm an evangelist -- I have been thinking we STILL have too much stuff/space with 1200 square feet (3 bed/1 bath). I'm nostalgic for the loft days, although we could only do that if we had a less traditional loft space. Sigh.

  9. You guys have some great, viable options! I've always wished I could peek six months into the future, just to see how it all turns out when my family has gone through big transitions. Time really does march on and things find a way of working out for the best. Last April, I had no idea that my family would be moving to Texas and finding jobs! But we did and things are working out just fine.