Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Adventures in Homeownership

So we're all moved into the house.. we had the floors sanded and refinished, the electrical system redone, fence installed, painted several rooms, to the point that the house doesn't really look like what we bought at all, and definitely feels more "ours". Truly, this house could have a million things wrong with it, and Boyfriend and I would be fine with that, because we can actually FIX things around this house. Our rental was a nice property but it was never really maintained, and there were so many things that, if fixed, would have made it much nicer. I guess we won't really have the shock of "but our landlord used to fix that!" because they didn't fix anything, so we did end up just living with a thousand little problems. Now of course we have the to-do list that's a mile long.. much of which costs money, naturally.

We had our first minor emergency - the central AC and the fan unit that's part of the furnace that runs the cold air through the house were both leaking water. Like lots of water. Considering that an air conditioner should not produce more than condensation, this was Bad. Luckily, we did get a home warranty on the place, and called in for that. Apparently we were very, very low on Freon. I am not certain that that alone would cause This Much Water, but if it doesn't fix it, we can call the contractor back within 30 days and not even have to pay the deductible again. So that's nice. The AC seems to be working fine now and isn't producing much, and we will watch it for the next few days. If it turns out to be a big problem, the warranty will cover replacement, at any rate.

In other news, I now have two sick animals - one of the perennially ill guinea pigs has a kidney stone causing a bladder infection, so she's on antibiotics for that while we wait for her to pass the stone. She was pretty cranky last week and seems OK this week, so I'm really hoping she already peed it out. She goes in next week to get an X-ray to see what's going on (another $90 for that alone.) I really, really, really hope that she has, both because with being still unemployed it would be painful to come up with the $700-800 for the surgery and inpatient stay, and I also really don't want her to have to live in a cat carrier for three weeks and get antibiotics and pain meds and be cranky. We've had quite enough of that thank you. The dog incurred her first vet bill (other than the first visit after we got her) since she helpfully let us know she wasn't feeling well by peeing on the couch. While sponging it up, I saw that it was pink, and off to the emergency vet room we went. Luckily we live very close to the Ohio State veterinary college, which has 24/7 care, and we weren't even the only ones there. I said when we came in that I thought she had a urinary tract infection, and $250 later, plus a pack of pills that we already had some of at home, they confirmed this. Sheesh. Hopefully that will be it for her and she will feel better soon. I also hope she didn't pick it up at daycare, since she went for two days while we were moving. The cat and dog have always been the cheap pets - luckily Kitty has never come down with anything more serious than hairballs.

In job news, the woman I interviewed with a few weeks ago is very interested in me and said that it would take about three weeks for them to create the position. It is hourly, which is nice, and I asked for $21-22 plus benefits, which I think is pretty reasonable considering that I will actually be performing three different tasks for them, all of which I am fully qualified to do. I called earlier today to check in but my contact person was gone.. hopefully she has good news tomorrow. It will be three weeks next Tuesday.

I also applied for unemployment - why the heck not - and do not seem to be excelling at the system. My social security number apparently didn't match my name (I don't have a middle name, which confused the computer) so I have to send in some documents to prove that I am who I am and they should give me $365 a week. Which, I have to say, seems like a lot of money to me because I am not paying my own rent or buying much of my own food, but if I were, dang, that's tiny. I mean, it's more than Boyfriend made while in school, but not much when you have a house, sick pets, dependent significant other, etc.

I have spent much of the past few days unpacking and contemplating the sheer volume of STUFF that we own. And also contemplating the fact that the cheese drawer in the fridge, by cubic feet, was one of the most valuable boxes we moved (minus laptops and flat-panel monitors.) I like my cheese.

Monday, July 14, 2008

In Which Our Hero Encounters A Ton Of Bad Things

So.. about that new job.. it turned out to be a really, really terrible place to work where everyone is unhappy and dreads being around the top doc. I got fired, but since I was about to quit anyway, it kind of works out. This was definitely one of those situations where it is not worth putting up with crap like that just for a paycheck, and I could not see myself there long-term. I had trouble envisioning myself there the next DAY, each evening. Your job should not be something you withstand.

Anyway. So, unemployed again. I do already have an interview tomorrow though. Someone called me half an hour after I had accepted the previous job, and I had to decline the interview. However, they were very very interested in me, and offered to beat whatever I was getting there.. but it's not a terribly good idea to turn down a known quantity for a potential, is it? They then said "well, if it doesn't work out, give me a call." So that I did, and I'm going in tomorrow. They're still very very interested and it at least from the outside appears to be a much better opportunity.

The big hang up for me in getting jobs in my field is that I am not willing to draw blood. For my own part, I would rather have my blood drawn by a nurse with years of experience than by some girl who just tried it out on her coworker once. However, for some reason, my not wanting to do this is rarely taken seriously. The example I usually use is that if you were afraid of the water, no one would ever suggest you learn to swim and become a lifeguard, but if you don't want to stick needles in people, most healthcare workers will just say, "oh but it's so easy! we can teach you and it's not a big deal." Few people actually respect that I really, really don't want to stick needles in people's arms. If I didn't have this hangup, I'd probably be a nurse. But unfortunately in some situations blood-drawing skills are an absolute requirement of the job. I had an interview some time ago with a place that seemed otherwise great, but the coordinators were required to do various tests on the patients and draw blood, and while I am perfectly willing to perform an EKG (which is pretty easy actually) I was not willing to draw blood, and by the end of the interview both me and the interviewer knew that I would not be back because of this. I don't apply for jobs that state in the description that phlebotomy skills are required or preferred, but it's often the case that they don't say one way or the other. So I'm really hoping that it won't be required, but it would not surprise me if it were, at this place I'm going tomorrow. Here's hoping not.

Of course, this has come at the worst possible financial time - we just got our gas meter read for the first time in months and the catch-up bill is $330, my car is in the shop for a bunch of bad-sounding things and who knows how much that will cost, we just went to visit both sets of relatives this weekend (hotel $100, car $300 since I am under 25 and they charge a LOT extra, plus I had to keep it for tomorrow because my car is in the shop), and on top of all that one of my guinea pigs is again peeing blood and went to the vet today, and is staying overnight. She has already had lab tests and an X-ray ($90 for 2 shots) and will require at the very least a bunch of medications three times a day for the next two weeks and then perhaps surgery after that. (she has kidney stone sludge in her bladder, which she may pee out, and if she doesn't, she will need surgery, but she is also pretty weak at this point since she also recently had to be spayed because of uterine cancer and she hasn't regained any weight yet. And that was $1100 too.) So in all likelihood, the 3 1/2 weeks of pay that I will get from my short-lived stint at That Place will all go to cover all of this recent stuff and I still won't be able to save any money or keep from going further into debt. Hooray. At this point I can't even begin to fathom how I am going to get back to where I was before. I have pretty close to a negative net worth despite having saved what now feels like a fortune in retirement money. It is somewhat tempting to think that I could just cash it all out and pay everything off, but the power of compound interest makes me leave it there. All of my debt is at 5.9% or below (much at 3.5% or 0%) so I know that is the smart thing to do.

In other news, we (or I should say Boyfriend) successfully bought the house and will take possession Wednesday, upon which we will start paying a bunch of other people to do a bunch of stuff. At least since I am unemployed, I can do the painting myself and save some money there. Might buy a paint sprayer but I have never used one and am wary of spending $100+ on something I don't know how to use. I do know how to use a roller on a stick. I will try to do what I can on my own - although some things are recognizably beyond my ken, such as installing chain link fence.