All posts by Joy

The Comedy of Attempting to Find an In-Network Therapist

Depression isn’t like cancer. There’s no scan you can get which spots a tumor and clearly requires treatment. It sits with you for years–on a good day you may not even remember you have it, then suddenly a dark cloud forms over your head and no amount of fun activities or success can shake you of overwhelming, suffocating sadness.

I’m fortunate enough today where I have health insurance that covers mental health–well, sort of. It is supposed to be $20 a session for in-network therapy, if only in-network therapists actually existed. I’ve written about this before, but after giving up on finding an in-network therapist I decided to try again. I pulled up my insurance company’s “find a provider” website and started searching names of psychologists both close to my house and my work, and put in a bunch of calls hoping one would actually be open and available at a reasonable time to meet weekly. Continue reading

What Do You Want / You Can’t Have it All

I was texting with my childhood friend. She lives across the country in a house that her now-husband bought. She is pregnant and due in a few months. She has a stable job in a public-service role that she loves, and she spends her free time with friends and traveling the world. I’m sure she’s not happy all the time– she had quite the traumatic childhood and has overcome a lot– but she seems content with life and stable enough to enjoy it.

Her and her husband are jointly making probably $60k-$70k a year, but they make it work. They can make it work because they live somewhere more affordable than here.  Explaining to her that my concern du jour was that I have a job offer that pays $70k less than my current role just didn’t compute. It probably doesn’t with most of my readers too… Continue reading

Needing to Escape But Nowhere to Go

Getting a job isn’t easy, but it appears based on my experience and half-way decent interview skills, I am able to get offers. This already makes me so much more fortunate that 99.999999999999~% of people in the world. Yet every day I work in corporate-esque America, I feel my soul being sucked out of me in its entirety. If only I could fake it like so many people around me probably do, then I’d be doing so well. I’m saving boatloads of money per month (given my relatively low cost of living in a high-cost-of-living area), and I have a job that provides substantial autonomy and seniority —

I could do a job for a short-term project — say, 1-3 months of figuring out a business problem — but staying in the same role for years has me driving home from work everyday thinking I’m going to look back on my life and this will be all I’ve done — whatever this is, it surely won’t matter in the grand scheme of things — I’m just a cog in the machine and a poorly functioning one at that (with all sorts of poorly fitting parts clunking away trying to make my little piece spin) and after now 12 years of trying to push forward I am just collapsing under the weight of adulthood. Continue reading

Fuck The People Who Know What They Are Doing.

How do you go from wiggly, smelly, crying newborn to a pretentiously proselytizing expert on any given subject matter? Perhaps you have spent years researching — gathering data, processing hundreds of thousands of bits of information to determine some remnant or possible truth — and then you put on your adult hat and you know your shit and you believe you are no longer a weak child but some godlike creature that knows more than others do. You’re fucking awesome.

I’m not awesome. I barely get by and I try to get things done and sometimes I manage to bs my way through things just like everyone else – however, I’m so very aware of how much bullshit is applied at any given time, and have no ability to translate that into some sort of forged confidence. I watch leaders be leaders and they seem to know so much more than I do, are so much more sure, more confident, more put together and prepared — less emotional, less empathetic (albeit the best leaders have enough fake empathy that the majority believe they have a reasonably high EQ) and that’s it, they’re successful, they move up the career ladder all they way through retirement learning $150k than $200k than $250k then $500k and $1M and on and on and they pay for a fancy house and nice dinners and perhaps designer clothes and a personal trainer and a nanny and private schools and one week trips each year to some exotic destination that they end up working from anyway and eventually they retire and join some non-profit board or two in order to feel useful unless/until they die and that’s that. Continue reading

Lessons in Adulting: How Much Should Living Room Furniture Cost?

When we moved in together two years ago, my Craigslist-purchased couch with ripped cushions and protruding feathers, along with my once-glued together, now peeling-apart IKEA coffee table and self-desctructive Tar-gey bookshelves which are not safe to be around a small child, seemed perfectly fine for a trancient space. With barren white walls and a few half-filled and altogether empty frames scattered about the floor, this now-married couple is trying to figure out how to create a place that feels like “home” without overdoing it (you know, like we (…ahem… I) overdid our wedding.)

Right now, we really can’t have guests over because the place is embarrassing, even on its good days when I’ve cleaned up the piles of mess. Our lease is up in May, but it is doubtful we will move next year or anytime soon (the only real reasons for us to move is 1 – rents going up an unreasonable amount, 2 – we have a child and said child turns 2, or 3, one of us gets a job super far away, like, in another state, and we need to move.) Otherwise, it looks like we’re hunkered down for a few more years in our 800-square foot, overpriced-due-to-Silicon-Valley-rental-costs abode.

This furniture has got to go. Continue reading

When You Come Home from Work Shaking With Anxiety…

There are plenty of signs that my current job is on its last legs, and soon it will be time to move on. Although I can potentially obtain another role with the same or even a higher salary, at this point there is the logical side of me that says “stay just another month” as each month is coming to an end, just to save up for my future, just to get to a point in life where I won’t need to be stressed so much about finances, where I can focus on living instead of worrying every day.

My objective in life is to be in my 50s and to be able to take my children and friends out to dinner and get the check, without worrying if I can pay my rent. I imagine I need $2M by my 50s in order to afford this lifestyle. That seems rather impossible, but with my current savings if I can earn 10% YoY for the next 17 years, I’d have over $2M. The 10% annual growth is unlikely, though, so bringing it down to a much more likely 5%, that only gets me to $1M at 50. This doesn’t include any additional contributions between now and then, so it’s still possible… I need to save about $40k annually for the next 17 years in order to hit my goal.

Today, with my current lifestyle and savings, I’m able to save ~$6k a month or more. To be conservative, I would easily save $72k a year at the moment. If I can sustain that for the next 17 years, I will clearly hit my goal (unless all hell breaks loose in the economy, of course.) However, I know I cannot maintain this career for 17 more years. I also don’t want to — I don’t want to get to 50 and look back on my life and see that I didn’t create anything significant or impact the world in a positive way. Yes, I can “start” my life at 50… assuming I have kids soon, they’ll be in high school then, and I can go back to school or change careers at that point with $2M in the bank as a safety net, but that seems sad to me… I cannot imagine spending my children’s entire childhoods and adolescence working a job that requires me to rarely be home… missing out on important life events and just being there for my kids. I really don’t want that.

Of course, if I can’t have kids, this is a moot point… if I end up not able to have children, then two things happen – I can stay employed in this type of role for longer, saving more money, and I don’t have kids, so clearly I would be not spending as much either. Regardless, I still want children, and I’m still going to try to have them.

If I do get pregnant and have kids, I know my life has to change, as does my expectations for the future. I don’t think I’ll be able to continuously save $40k+ a year – some years, I’ll be lucky if I can max out my 401k. If I want to change my career, I’ll likely need to go back to school and invest in that and start at a lower wage for many years. I’m not going to do that until I know for sure what I want to be when I grow up… which may never happen. But this career isn’t right. This career is going to cause me to have a heart attack before I even make it to 50.

There is other $ variables at play, that I don’t consider when planning my future, as they’re all “extras” and “nice to haves” but cannot be counted on. My husband makes a living as well, and although his salary is much lower than mine, he still is able to save something each year, and eventually he can earn more as well. Then we have our parents who may pass down something to us one day, but planning for a life with a potential inheritance seems both futile and deeply morbid. Neither of our parents are well off, but there’s a chance we’ll get a few hundred thousand dollars or more one day down the line. That alone could pay for our retirements. So, the reality is I’m in a good place… the $500k mark in my networth will be a sigh of a relief, a moment to celebrate maybe a glimmer of financial freedom… the opportunity to take a few more risks… to start to find out what really matters to me in this very short life, versus just working for works sake.

I have a new boss. New boss is great in the sense that new boss is really good at her job. New boss is everything someone in a senior leadership role in this career should be. New boss is, in many ways, the opposite of me. New Boss (I’ll call boss “B” for the sake of simplicity) is a tiger. B doesn’t take shit from anyone and knows what she wants and she gets it done. B knows what to do and how to navigate the political waters of the workplace with ease. B is on the ball, all the time, and doesn’t let emotions get in the way of decisions.  B is not someone I can aspire to be like — my entire being cannot be that person. I can’t fake it. I can’t just wake up every morning and put my “B” cap on and suddenly be this great senior executive. B will never be me.

In the meantime, if I want to stay, I have to impress B. I am already starting from far behind as B was clearly told things about me in the interview process that were far from flattering, and B has visibility into my salary and knows that it’s high for my current role (it was high but fair for my prior role where I was running the department, not so much for my smaller and smaller role, which is shrinking by the day.) At some point the numbers just won’t work. At some point either they would give me a pay cut or let me go.

B is very strategic. B knows there is a large amount of change required and will make those changes in an organized manner, getting the most value out of me as possible before I am removed from the organization. If I continue to provide value, I don’t think I’ll be fired immediately. I could be wrong, but the organization seems to have a policy around being fair, and if I’m doing the job requested of me and fulfilling the role, I do not see being tossed out as long as the company is doing well and isn’t going through any formal layoffs. In the case of formal layoff it is clear I’d be one of the first to go. But as long as we’re doing well and I’m doing my job and getting things done on time and at a quality expected of me, I should get to stay.

Yet I’m not sure I’m capable of getting the things done that are required of me on time and at the level of quality expected. I’m determine to try – focusing on doing my very best and giving it my all for ~3 months is not a bad objective, even if my future tenure is limited. That’s 90 days, $18k+ in savings, and ideally a good reference to walk with based on the fact that I really did try my best and, as the song goes, I guess my best wasn’t good enough.

According to my latest networthIQ entry, my networth today is $468k. With that $18k additional, that gets me to about $486k, within an arm’s reach from my $500k goal.

Or, I get another job that pays less, and is more sustainable, and I get to $500k sometime later this year — which is the goal anyway and theoretically I could work through the end of May, get to $486k, take my PTO dollars and some of my savings, take 3 months off and travel the world, come back with $475k in the bank, get a job that pays less than my current one (say $7k take home per month after tax vs $10k), save $4k a month, save $16k for the rest of the year, get to around $491k by the end of the year (and that’s WITH taking 3 months off and taking a job that pays much less when I get back.) So even if I take a ~$3k paycut and take 3 months off, I should still be within striking distance of my goals.

OR, I just suck it up, work in this role through the rest of the year by giving it my all and somehow being “not firable” … save $70k more, get to around $538k, get pregnant sometime this summer, stay at work for the 9 months of my pregnancy, say 5 more months in 2018, save another $35k, get to ~$575k then freelance for a few years earning a lot less, but living off the money I was able to save fighting through this job for … 15 more months. That seems like a very long time and between now and then we could easily have a mass layoff which I’d be caught up in anyway, but logically staying 15 more months gives me +2 years in my current job (good for the resume), and the amount I’d save is almost worth it. With interest, I could have $600k saved up when I leave work for a more flexible lifestyle for a few years when my kids are young. My objective, then, would be to not tap that $600k… to make enough money to pay rent/mortgage/taxes, for food and any vacations/entertainment travel with whatever I earn (and what my husband earns.)

In that reality, with $600k untouched for 10 years growing at 5-6% YoY I get to $900k-$1M by 44. That’s not the $2M by 50, but it’s still rather exciting that this seems possible — better if I stay in my current role for 15 months (or obtain another role that pays the same or more that I can successfully stay in for 15 months!) … or I just say fuck it, stick this out for 3 more months, take a few months off, then come back and get a lower paying job that I can sustain throughout being pregnant and the early years of parenting.

At least, thanks to savings a substantial amount in my 20s, I have options.

 

 

Infertility: Another Test, Another Thousand Dollars

$750. That’s the cost of just one more test which is needed to start the process of attempting to have a child. That’s on top of $400 for the initial ultrasound and about $500 for the bloodwork and genetic testing and male fertility analysis that’s required, or $1650 before we even get started. Then, we pay $1250 for 3 months of monitored medication (plus $100 or so for the actual medication) with a grand finale of turkey baster attempted-impregnation—all which very well may not work, leaving us about $3000 in the hole with nothing to show for it other than the first etchings of emotional scars which will likely be dug even deeper.

Now, $3000 isn’t that much to have a child. But that’s just Phase 1 of a likely long and costly journey to parenthood. This, of course, doesn’t include the cost of taking off from work for doctor’s appointments (which are so perfectly timed to occur during the first months of having a new boss who is likely looking for reasons to remove and replace me in order to build her dream team.) It also doesn’t include any of the suggested “to dos” in order to become more fertile, such as acupuncture or anything to de-stress (i.e. replacing a high-paid high-stress job with a much lower paid, lower-stress job.) Continue reading

A Directionless Sort of Hopelessness

If there is one thing I miss about being a child, it is that feeling that everything you’re doing adds up to something. There is an irreplaceable sense of anticipation for the future, and that future keeps on coming. As an adult, now approaching my mid 30s, I’ve lost all excitement for what’s next. I don’t think that’s depression, it’s just life.

Perhaps a part of me is excited about this hypothetical “house and kids” future, but I can’t let myself get too excited about it because both variables of that equation are proving more and more unlikely. Kids? I need to lose a significant amount of weight before the doctor will give me medicine that will give me some tiny chance of getting pregnant without reducing my chances of miscarriage. House? Unless I win the lottery, or find a more sustainable-yet-equally-well-aid job, it just doesn’t make sense to commit to paying $6k+ a month for the next 30 years, not including taxes and repairs. Continue reading

Life in a Fragile Bubble: Trump, The American Dream and The Coastal Elite

Life doesn’t get any easier. As miserable as I was as a child, I now understand why all the adults fancied the idea of returning to those years so much. Not only did life move slower then, it also was a long, arduous climb up a mountain with the promise of fields of splendor on the other side. It seemed childhood was for fun and games but life itself truly started past the peak of that mountain—the entry into adulthood.

I could have been born in Africa or Syria, and not even had the privilege of a childhood. But my privilege is who I am, and it shaped how I feel today—this lack of ability to wake up at 6am and work out and commute an hour or more to work and sit at a desk all day completing tasks to help a company grow that may or may not work and smiling and small-talking and politicizing and head back towards home and spend an hour or more in commute and arrive home exhausted to a husband I rarely see and have no time to be a wife to and repeat this five days a week so that when Saturday arrives all I want to do is sit and stare at a television or sleep or avoid doing any of things that need to be done at home, and all this is before I have the responsibility of children in my household which would undoubtedly add a whole new layer of exhaustion and love and sense of failure and questions of purpose—another peak I’m slugging along towards now, trembling at seeing what is on the other side, and equally terrified to never see it. Continue reading

Suffocated by Adulthood: Failure to Thrive

I’m in trouble, yet again, for failing to plan appropriately for my projects and getting them done on time. I deserve to be let go, and I probably will be, and if I’m not I’m wondering if I have the capability to be organized and plan more effectively, gain consensus and get shit done so at least I can keep my job. Odds are not looking good.

I found out today, in a senior team meeting, that my new boss was hired this week. I wasn’t surprised, through some rudimentary sleuthing and typical paranoia I knew the hire was imminent. I’m not upset by the hire itself, nor being removed from the entire process of interviewing the candidate. What makes me saddest of all is what that means in terms of my own success in my role, or, let’s be real here, lack there of. I’m lucky to still have a job, and know I won’t be around for long–in a brief meeting with my boss today I was told my role would be shrinking further… Continue reading