Friday, January 9, 2009



So. January?

Already? January? January. Right.

For those of you who care, I'm sorry things have been so quiet around here. I've been in a little bit of a funk (a recession flu, if you will) and haven't wanted to talk about it, particularly during the most festive of seasons. But, in order to move on and celebrate happier things, it is time to unblock:

My husband, the current sole breadwinner, works in architecture and, given the state of the building industry, he is mostly out of a job. We learned at the beginning of December that the firm was rapidly running out of work with nothing else in the pipeline. I'll be honest: not the best of holiday news.

I've been back and forth with it, constantly cycling between a silent panic or a vague sense of despair or a chin-up confidence about the whole thing. I end up panicky more than I care to admit.

Truthfully, I have never been entirely at ease living in a single-income household, what with all the eggs in the one basket and the scary way this world has with kicking baskets and smashing eggs. But that single-income did keep our living honest: our house is small, we have no car payments, we have no consumer debt. We already live modestly. So, like millions of other Americans, we are steeling ourselves for the long run, ready to ride this out and hope for better times. We have each other, the four of us, and we all love one another so much that it nearly breaks me in two with gratitude and joy.

To better cope, I have employed the following measures:

1. I stopped reading my beloved news. As a news junkie this is a huge step, but every time I read or listen to the news I end up utterly hopeless. No news for the time being.

2. I started looking for work in earnest, and I truly love working, so that's fine. I am hoping for some freelance stuff, but would not be adverse to anything short of Tokyo Massage Parlor work. (Though still in progress, my freelance site is here.)

3. I only allow myself one full-blown panic attack per week. (Or two attacks if I happened to accidentally catch some Morning Edition. Three attacks max.)

4. I focus on all the things we do have and the fact that unemployment is something that can be (eventually) fixed and there are so many things that can never be fixed or changed or taken back. In the scope of Bad Things, I believe it to be one of the tamest. Far tamer than legions of zombies, for instance.

5. I avoided writing on my blog, because it was frivolous and too personal and would take away from all my valuable fretting time.

Needless to say, number five isn't really working out. I need to write, need to get this off my chest and tip my full hand of cards. Things suck right now, but I know they will be better, and surely writing and laughing and creating something will help things along the road to better. This blog has brought me great joy and satisfaction in the past and besides, there is so much to say about Christmas and the church play and putz houses and our giant, celebratory The Recession Can Bite Me tree. Priorities!

So: I'm back and back in earnest and before you know it, you'll be completely sick of me again. Thanks for the well wishes.


Moriah @ Please Pass the Salt said...

I never read the news. They exaggerate everything and tend to have a doomsday mindset and who WOULDN'T be depressed after a dose of that?! So I just don't go there. I figure if it's really important, I'll hear it through the grapevine (and I do).

So here's to 2009 and reveling in the things that really DO matter.

And on a totally superficial note, I love her little shirt in the photo.

ewe are here said...

I sincererly hope the employment situation changes for the better real soon.

And that picture? Priceless.

Christy said...

So glad you're back... and hanging in there. I've cut way back on my daily NYT fix myself... but still catch whatever NPR the kids will allow while driving here to there and vice versa.

The new biz looks good... I'll hapily refer you should the opportunity arise!

Lisa Wheeler Milton said...

Sick of you? Couldn't happen.

I think the news-break is important. We felt worse, month after month, balancing the for sale sign in our yard with the continuing bad news on the tube.

I took to listening to fiction while cleaning - free stuff I picked up at the library - so I could keep my head above water.

I hope you find something in the non-massage industry soon.

We're pulling for you.

Kelly said...

Oh, how I missed you! There's a lot of doom and gloom going around and I think we could all use a dose of BeanPaste to cheer us up.

No pressure...

Anonymous said...

I switched my homepage to That means I work on my French and now I'm really up on the French minister of...justice? finance? I forget, but she just had a baby and didn't tell at first who the father was AND (most shocking of all) didn't take all her maternity leave!
MUCH better than NPR. And, given my current location, I have only to watch for demonstrations outside my window to know how things are going in Palestine.

Welcome back! We all missed you :)

Stefanie said...


She She said...

You don't have any consumer debt? How I envy you that. Sounds like you're doing what you can. And your children are gorgeous. You've got that going for you. I hope you and/or hubby find work soon. I feel anxious almost every day about the mess our economy is in.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I know exactly where you are.

I'm sure you know this, but I'll tell you just in case. Your mortgage company can grant you a forbearance on your mortgage for up to a year in case of something like a layoff. You just have to start talking to them before you really have problems making your mortgage. Just knowing that possibility was out there gave me comfort during my husband's recent (and blessedly brief) period of unemployment.

Good luck on your search for work. And, as usual, your header is to die for.

Optimist said...

I must see that tree! Please post!

I hate the news - got so involved during the election cycle, I burned out. Just in time! Yeah!

I haven't been blogging either - just overwhelmed without the drive to share much.

I like hearing about being blocked - it helps me!


Bonnie in Houston xoxo

PS - great picture of you on Bossy's new road trip video!

Mike Golch said...

This is why I quite reading the papers,just the funnies.and stopped watching the news casts as well.Too depressing.

Kristen M. said...

If you share your giant tree story, I'll comment with our "december 24, go out in the front yard and cut down a 9 foot charlie brown sapling" story. This was definitely a holiday season to remember though not necessarily fondly!

kimmomofeight said...

I'm so glad you came back...I've missed you and your wit. Here's keeping 'em all crossed for better days ahead.

J. said...

That does it. The Wall of Despair must go -- or be entirely covered up.

We love you -- and are rooting for you and Bryon.

You are a VERY talented writer and graphic designer, and I bet you will find work, freelance or full time soon.

Let us all pray that Obama, if not the Messiah, will bring peace and prosperity both here and abroad.

Veronica Mitchell said...

Glad to see you back. Times suck, but they've sucked before and we are still here. It will get better.

Blue Mountains Mary said...

I had been wondering where you were and thinking about you and then I saw some photos go up on Flickr and thought aha! Then found your post.

I'm glad you are back. I'm glad you feel you can share here.

I wish things were better for you.

They will be.


dharmamama said...

J. is right! It's the WALL.

So, so glad you're back. You are a bright light here in this interweb.

I haven't read the news since the Abu Ghraib story first broke - I couldn't STAND it. And I haven't missed it at all. I'm somehow still informed, go figure. News pumps us full of fear, then sells us the sponsor's cures. I don't need it. [/soapbox]

smalltownmom said...

Welcome back!

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

Oh, that just blows. I'm hoping for a quick turn-around for you all...and still managing to have a laugh here thanks to The Recession Can Bite Me tree.

Jennifer H said...

I was so happy to see your post pop up in my reader.

Tough times. I hope we all see a turnaround soon. Hang in there, and please keep writing. My fingers are crossed for work to come your way.

(Great picture!)

Rima said...

I'm glad you're back.

The Boddeker Blog said...

I've MISSED you! You will find something in NO TIME. Why? Because you are witty, smart, kind, and have talents galore. I'd hire you in a millisecond!!!!!!! Can you move to Kentucky?

heidi said...

Hoping things pick up over there...
Whatever you do, please don't stop writing!

Csquaredplus3 said...

Welcome back! Thank goodness... I thought it was something I said...

Your new professional site looks great. 2009? We're all gonna be all right. Smiles, Chris

Anonymous said...

Oh golly...I have missed you!

And I think I'll hire you too. Expect an email.

EMM said...

Your professional site is lovely. Your food photography is wonderful! I am inspired to make your rice krispie "sushi".

Sending positive vibes your way from Washington D.C.! Welcome back.

iCarrie said...

Damn, I missed you.
I am sorry to hear how this stupid economy is hitting everyone right in the teeth.
You have so much talent, you will land whatever you search for.
Hang in there.

the cheap chick said...

Thank. God. I have missed you more than any other blogger friend ever. I'm sorry times are tough, but I'm here for you. Granted, my being here for you still means that I'm all the way in MN, but you get the idea. Hang in there!!!

Kelly @ Love Well said...

I used to work in the news business, which should explain my level of news addiction.

And even I don't read much news anymore. I scan the headlines in the morning and leave it alone after that.

Hope the breaking of Rule #5 is freeing your soul a little from the cave of anxiety. It's dark and gloomy in there. Nothing good comes of it.

happygeek said...

Welcome back!
Missed your awesome pics and wicked humour.

Jennifer said...

I just checked your blog yesterday because I thought my reader wasn't keeping up with you.
I'm glad you're back. Hopefully, coming up with things to write about here will take your mind off your troubles for a short while.
Hang in there. We'll all be thinking of your family and for better times for all of us.

Sojourner said...

Well- if you lived closer I would hire you to photo my jewelry, however, I will be emailing you regarding other possible things I need to sell jewelry.

I hate the news- but my S.O. is a news junkie and it drives me nuts. My thoughts are with you and your family- better times ARE coming, I am certain.


Magpie said...

Please write. We can be your support.

Good luck with work for you, and for him. The building business is tough indeed.

Tammy said...

Welcome back! I hope the situation turns around for you & Byron quickly.

kelly said...

glad you are back. here's to a better 2009. the last half of 2008 really sucked.

Anne said...

Just want to send hugs from another mother in a single-income household. So far so good on my dh's job, but that could change at any time, so I know your panic attacks. Mine are usually around 2am. Hang in there!

Minnesota Matron said...

The Matron is married to a realtor. This is why she got a job last year. Now she's the main breadwinner and THAT is down scaling. I completely understand! Hang in there!! Hoping for the best!

Claire B. said...

Hang in there chickie. Missed you. I, too, have launched a freelance creative business this year. I have hope that 09 will bring a slow, but sure, change and the economy will right itself. Eventually. Best of luck to you.

Photo of Ellie completely perfect, BTW.

kate5kiwis said...

yip, love the photo.
a picture paints a thousand words etc.
big loves from new zealand. i'm headed back to school this year too, and then back to the classroom as a teacher to keep the recession at bay in our house X

Nora said...

Yay! You're back! Sorry to hear the news, truly. I'm sure you're not panicking nearly as much as I would be. Tyra will help you through the hard times. :-)

dkuroiwa said...

The boat that you're in just keeps getting bigger and bigger, doesn't it? As one in a similiar situation, I can only say that your 'coping measures' look to be very workable ones!! I actually found myself sitting in the church next to my son's daycare...just sitting...asking for the strength to keep it going....I felt a little better!!

And really...if you think you might want to check into that Tokyo Massage Parlour thing, let me know...I can probably hook you up with some people I know!!!

Hang in there...nothing but blue skies ahead!!

Casey said...

Glad you're back. Glad you're focusing on the important things that will outlast the temporary setbacks.

As long as you have the people you love and a paper bag to breathe into during panic attacks, things will work out fine.

Amy the Mom said...

So glad you're back. I can only imagine how tough this is...but my husband and I are having really tough talks recently and I am not sleeping well. His industry trails Byron's by only a few months and he is having to make tough decisions about layoffs and paycuts. I'm avoiding the news, but he can't stop watching it.

It's scary out there, but I'm rediscovering simple pleasures and paying down debt so that we're better positioned to handle this.

We're all in this together.

Sheri said...

I'm sorry you're going through this. I know exactly how you feel, my job is one that could end any moment, especially in this economy, and it's no fun to worry all the time. Good luck with your job search, and I'm so glad you're back posting!

Anonymous said...

I am glad you are back. I was the wife of someone who lost his job during the beginning of the Clinton Admin (he was an engineer in defense), and I wanted to have a baby, and it was maddening. I think, as an older woman, my advice to you is the same as my mil's advice to me: they can take away your work, but they cannot take away your experience and your education. You and your husband are remarkable and talented people, and no one can take that away from you. Blessings to you both.

KatrinaM said...

Yeah! You're back! I've missed you, your wit, and glimpses of your beautiful kids. I miss Byron too by the way. Tell him we send greetings! Hang in there and keep the paper bag handy. Here's to rice and beans!

Claire B. said...

Gave you a little plug on my blog today! Hope you're well.

Sweet Pepita said...

Hang in there girl! You are destined for greatness. You are strong and you'll make it.

Allison said...

It's all relative - this new year looks to be one for counting blessings and keeping occupied with the business of simple living. Very glad to see you're back and blogging!

~m said...

I'm so glad you're back (was getting worried! :( )
I'm sorry about what you are facing and it is my opinion, given your mad skillz with computer-machine/interwebz stuff, you'll be able to drum up some extra income in no time.
I agree about the news. I LOVE it but it darkens your whole day sometimes and it's so often about stuff you can't do anything about. which is even more depressing.
Chin up, dearie, we're all pulling for you and your wonderful, gorgeous family.

lapoflux said...

I'm sorry about the bad news, and I sincerely hope things turn around soon.

I may need to spruce up my blog and start an Etsy store just to send some business your way - the site looks great, best of luck.

a Tonggu Momma said...

I no longer watch the news. I just do the crossword puzzle. This does, of course, cause some problems, like not knowing about the war in the Middle East until about 10 days later. Thinking of y'all during this time. My BIL is in the mortgage industry, so I see close-up how this economy continues to effect so many. And the picture? SO. LIKE. MY. TONGGINATOR.

Optimist said...

Melanie - I finally watched Grey Gardens last night!

Wow. I've been asking myself all kinds of questions today, Like:

Why didn't Jackie hire them a MAID? I know she paid for house repairs - but Dang!

The head coverings were covering a bald head? How did Little Edie go bald?

Did she ever find that Libra Man???

Please advise...

xoxo Bonnie in Houston

Yarni Gras! said...

I must agree with you on several points. I limit my panic attacks, I also limit the news I read and we too were debt free....until we moved here.....and until the transmission died.......and.....and. Suffice it to say, I am going back to work soon you are not alone. Like you, I don't mind working...its the 'career' I'm not too sure about...I just want a mommy job for now :-)

Scott said...

I love your blog and I think you would appreciate my sense of humor. If I link to your blog on my blog is there any way you could return the favor? I think we could both get more exposure!

Check it out: Http://

Thanks so much

Professor J said...

I'm thinking of you.

Carla said...

Melanie I'm sorry for your situation. I hope it gets better. January is the worst, I've been in a funk too. Being jobless has to make it all the more dire.
I have been checking your Beanplate blog every day for new recipes and wondering what happened to you. No pressure... I hope things work out for you and your family. I really enjoy reading your blog.

apathy lounge said...

Last month my husband's work (he's an archaeologist-turned-building contractor)was solid. But this month there isn't the back-up of ten people calling and asking for a spot in line. One big job on the horizon...sure...but there is comfort in knowing that there's actually more out there that one can humanly do. And now? It's looking slim. And then yesterday an e-mail from my employer about the possibility of the grant money (upon which MY job in education is based)running out. Yeah...I hear you. Hear you loud and clear.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

Bless your heart.

Sending you love. And hugs.

Sissie said...

Good advice you give:
Always remember this is "far tamer than Legions of Zombies"

That little shining nugget will help me through my day!

Thinking of you and yours.....

stephanie (bad mom) said...

No way I can be sick of you - especially now that we've met; you're absolutely fabulous and I've given you an award at my place to that effect...

So anyway, about this freaky economy/jobs thing - I've been praying that if we do have to move for Stu's big money, it's to Boise. Which of course means your man would get a job here in Washington. Sigh.


Monica said...

Glad you are back! I'm with you, leave the news off it is much better that way.

Trenches of Mommyhood said...

Here's sending good vibes your way from Massachusetts!
Thanks for visiting my Trenches!

Anonymous said...

i am a news-a holic! i need to know, good or bad, but i need to be informed and make my lfe work in spit of that!
my husband lost his job in October. i am terrified of loosing my home(we have 7 months of mortgage pmts saved, thats it), my job while good doesn't make all the ends meet. so every morning i take a deep breath, cry in the car, and muddle through another day.
then yesterday while i was having my 4pm pity party, i had to help a customer, and we needed his address to which he responded, i live in a shelter and it can't be sent there.
and suddenly my pity party was over and i realized i was one of the lucky ones...
we are all going to be ok.

ophelia rising said...

So hard these days, but it sounds like you're all doing well, under the circumstances. Thinking of you, and wishing you continued joy and love, despite the bad economy!

By the way, I love your business website. You are truly inspiring.

katydidnot said...

oh, that photo. oh my. she's a keeper.

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