When Nothing Is Enough

I’m part of a group of self-identifying women on Facebook, thousands of lovely, like-minded women who support each other, ask questions about where to buy hemp milk, whatever. It’s oozing with crunchiness, hippy-dippiness, and over-sensitivity. And I was stupid enough to ask for some friendly advice.

We’ve been toying with the idea of getting a second home outside the country, potentially living there one day, as we’re concerned with the education and healthcare systems in America, as well as our culture of consumerism-at-all-costs. The divide that has happened in this country leading up to, and since, the election also has us sad and concerned for the country’s future. And having lived abroad as a child myself, I can attest to the change it creates in you to experience another culture when you’re young. I want that for Cameron.

Most of the comments on the post were friendly and helpful; giving me advice about Visas and taxes, making suggestions about countries that might make sense. But some interpreted my highly early-stage question as some sort of assumption that we could move wherever we wanted and were owed things from the world. They further ripped me for having a “white child” and suggested that we could find exactly what we wanted in Atlanta since we were so privileged already.

I shouldn’t let trolls get to me, but the reaction really put me into a dark hole. I try so hard, every day, to understand and acknowledge my privilege. We live in a diverse neighborhood because we like being around people who are different from us. It is my #1 goal as a parent to ensure Cameron uses his privilege the right way. We volunteer, donate, give to the homeless and treat them as neighbors. We fight for those without a voice. We march. We rally. I call my representatives, and often. It saddens and infuriates me to feel like there’s literally nothing I can do to make some people happy. That because I have certain things and others don’t, that I deserve to be treated like garbage or told my family doesn’t have a right to try and pursue happiness as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.

I don’t have any more to give. I have been screaming into an endless void for a year now, trying to use my voice for those who can’t speak. Unlearning racism. Acknowledging my privilege. Teaching my child to do the same.

And here I am. Square one. Diminished and embarrassed, like being unhappy with this country is a right reserved only for the disenfranchised.

I am endlessly fortunate, for so, so many things. And I am eternally grateful. But sometimes I don’t think it’s enough until I also feel un-endingly guilty as well. Like I have to bleed to somehow make things square.

Is this how right Right feels? Is this why they hate us? Because we can’t see beyond our own noses to recognize the people at the end of them?

40 Before 40

In ten years, I’ll be officially middle-aged.

In the four years leading up to 30 since I started this blog, I accomplished 25 of the 30 tasks on my To Do list – not half bad, especially considering the ones I never hit were “get spiritual” and “be happy just as I am.” I mean… how vague can you get?

What have I learned? Well, for one thing, get more specific with your goals. Also, be open to what comes at you. I, somewhat unexpectedly, became a mom during the process of this, and you know, you’ve got to go with the flow. I started a business – not on the list. We renovated a whole house – not on the list. So what if I didn’t hit Octoberfest or see Machu Picchu yet?

So let’s give this another shot, with a longer timeline, just to keep things interesting. Who’s with me?

 

TRAVEL A LOT

40. Machu Picchu. Duh.

I actually wrote this blog draft before we went to Peru. So I’m excited to say… um, I’ve done this already!

Machu Picchu!

39. Go to Australia.

38. Go to Africa.

37. Complete Handstands Across America. (To date, I’ve hit GA, SC, NC, TN, PA, WV, VA, FL, AZ, NY, NJ, CT, AL, CO, IL, and WY.)

36. Take Cameron to a place that’s non-English-speaking.

35. Take my mom on a vacation.

 

MAKE SOME MONEY

34. Increase my income by 10% at least one year.

33. Attend at least 5 networking events each year.

32. Take a continuing education course in a related field.

 

BE A GOOD MOM

31. Help Cameron with his homework. Even when I don’t understand it.

30. Log at least one solid moment where I go, “My kid made the choice to do the RIGHT thing.”

29. Tell Cameron EVERY SINGLE DAY that I love him.

 

BE A GOOD WIFE

28. Show Brandon at least once a month how much I really appreciate him – even when he’s driving me COMPLETELY INSANE for whatever reason.

27. Have a date night alone with Brandon at least once a month.

 

DISCONNECT

26. Give up Facebook (or whatever the hot thing of the moment is) for a SOLID month.

25. Go on at least 10 family outings completely without my phone.

24. Turn off the TV for a month. Before 30, I struggled to do this for a week. Let’s up the game.

 

STAY HEALTHY

23. Run another 15k.

22. Take fitness classes at least once a week for 6 months – jazzercise, dance, Zumba, kickboxing, yoga… whatever.

21. Go a month without alcohol.

20. Go a month without bread.

 

BE ADVENTUROUS

19. Participate in a big cultural event (like I wanted to before 30 :).

18. Run for a public office.

17. Learn another new skill (welding, embroidery, calligraphy, etc).

 

CHILL OUT

16. Do absolutely nothing for a full weekend.

15. Write in a journal every day for a month.

14. Read a few more classic books.

13. Go on vacation somewhere that’s purely relaxing, not necessarily an “adventure” destination, just to enjoy it.

 

BE A GOOD FRIEND

13. Send care packages to 10 friends for no good reason.

12. Check in more often on friends who are going through crappy times.

 

PROTECT MY INVESTMENTS

11. Get my retirement savings to $500k by age 40.

10. Diversify my investments – BitCoin? International real estate? Etc?

9. Keep 6 months worth of savings in the bank “just in case.”

8. Keep, and stick to, a freakin’ budget for 6 months (to start).

7. Start a trust fund for Cam, and keep his college money saving.

6. Get smarter about investing – take a class in stock trading or similar.

5. Donate $10k to charity/a good cause.

 

WOAH, BUDDY

4. Flip/renovate a house.

3. Own chickens.

2. Move internationally for a period of time.

 

The last 1 is still TBD… could be big, could be small. Time will tell…..

Dear Elizabeth

Dear Elizabeth,

I find myself on the precipice of despair and fury on a daily basis. I don’t know how you walk into your job with your head held high every day, watching as our democracy slowly crumbles around us, fighting like hell to grip it together.

I don’t know if we’re doing the right thing. I look at history and the people who took the path of peace and love often got steamrolled. The angry mob often won out. They stormed the Bastille. They tossed the tea.

The angry mob is able to do heinous and unspeakable things: genocides, throwing elections, overthrowing governments, assassinations, secessions – you name it. They get things done. It’s sick what an angry group of people is capable of.

And our response is to shout that “love trumps hate,” even when that doesn’t appear to be true. I in no way suggest we Democrats need to get violent or anything, but we should be angry. We should be motivated. We should be in collective agreement about our plans for the future. Because the angry mob has already formed underneath our president, and we are the silent majority.

I don’t agree with everything you do, or the ways you do it. But I respect your willingness to never back down, and to call those in power to the table. I want to see you mad as hell, and I want you to motivate all the rest of us to get mad as hell too. Because only when we are angry are we going to be driven to positive action. Only when we’re mad will we continue to fight for what is right.

My baby is almost 8 months old and I fear for his future. I fear that our country is being designed by puppetmasters and string-pullers, run by corporations, and losing its middle class entirely. I deeply fear that our president is mentally ill and will do something catastrophic. But even once that nightmare concludes–hopefully safely–we have been gerrymandered and bought and sold so many times over that our representation in government looks like a shell of its people.

I’m sad to have a government in place today that is not representative of most of the country. I’m sad the evil out there feels justified that it is winning. I’m terrified for my son, and the things he will encounter as a result of this mess. Will he encounter record-breaking hurricanes every year for the rest of his life? Will he be able to pay for college? Will he ever be able to buy a house? Have a family with another man, if that’s what’s in his heart? Become a Muslim, if he’s so inclined? Read classic books that speak to controversial topics? Speak his mind? Trust the press and the news he sees? Live without concern that his every move is being tracked? Not be concerned about foreign governments manipulating him?

I say all this as the mom of a white boy; I can only imagine what goes through the minds of the moms of black boys, immigrant girls, transgender children. Our social progress is under attack, our ecosystem is hanging in a precarious balance, and Equifax is selling our financial data to the highest bidder. And what do we stand for?

We can’t just stand as the opposition, the resistance. We have to stand for more.

I want to see our Democratic manifesto, the thing we rally behind. I want to see more from this country than infighting and blame. I want to get angry as hell, but angry for the right reasons – because our choices have been stolen from all of us and put in the hands of the .1%.

Rather than telling you what I don’t like, this is what I believe needs to happen. Is it what the party will rally behind? Only time will tell.

  • Free and accessible healthcare for all, as it is a human right.
  • Restrictions on financial institutions, real estate, and data companies. (I say this as someone who works with data. Frankly, no company should be allowed to store data on someone indefinitely. They should be actively using the data, or they should dump it. It makes us too vulnerable to risk otherwise.)
  • LGBTQ rights.
  • Black lives matter. As a result, police should be held to a higher standard than they are – we need training programs for police officers for de-escalation, race relations programs, and swift action taken when police abuse their power.
  • The legalization of marijuana. There is NO reason it should be illegal, other than to provide an excuse to throw people of color in jail.
  • Higher taxes on the wealthy, lower taxes on the middle class. We know trickle-down economics does not work. It actually doesn’t even make sense, frankly. If I handed you $10k, you wouldn’t decide to hire a PT maid. You’d bank it or spend it in various places. The same applies to the wealthy. Tax breaks don’t mean they create jobs. Tax breaks to the middle and lower classes result in more jobs, because collectively, those breaks are spent into the economy, producing a demand for jobs to fulfill that spending.
  • Easy, accessible abortions. Because women have the right to choose.
  • More welcoming regulations around legal immigration and trade. Our economy is dependent on the economies around the world. The most successful countries have a give-and-take relationship with each other.
  • Job training for those displaced by outsourced and automated jobs. A robot took your job–not an illegal Mexican. But you’re still unemployed, so let’s train you how to do something else to feed your family.
  • Gun control. Nobody should be able to kill 58 people, and injure more than 500, in 15 minutes.
  • Heavier federal funding for public education. College students should be motivated to become teachers. We need to pay them like they matter, and support the schools like they house minds who will make decisions for the future.
  • Less funding for the military. We have an amazing military and it’s not necessary to keep throwing money at it with outrageous abandon. Fund it appropriately but cut the fat.
  • More funding for research on social programs that work – how we can improve Welfare, Social Security, etc. and make the dollars we spend there more efficient at helping people onto their feet.
  • Consideration for government regulations and programs for low-income housing – how to make it easier for people to stay in their homes in the wake of gentrification, how to make it easier for people to purchase their first home, etc.
  • Equal pay for equal work.
  • Free and accessible access to women’s preventative healthcare and family planning resources, as having a plan means healthier children and families, which removes long-term financial burdens on the system. (Not to mention, it’s the right thing to do.)
  • Access and research for mental health treatment programs and addiction programs.
  • Acknowledgement that climate change is real, and a place at the table as one of the countries who will lead the charge to slow its effects.

I’m sure there are more bullets I could add here but these are the ones off the top of my head. I honestly can’t imagine what most people would have an issue with on most of these. How can we rally together to make these a reality, and gather to fight FOR something rather than constantly fighting AGAINST something?

Elizabeth, I’m sure you’ll never read this, but I have to get it off my chest. Wherever you are today, please give me strength, and I’ll send a little to you. I want to help you make this country closer to the way it was when you were growing up, economically… but with the progressive ideals young people are inherently gathering around today.

Balancing Act

I’m in a pub in Erie, PA, and I’m bone tired.

Working remotely has its perks, for sure: Brandon and I were able to take a trip to Erie to visit family with the little man, and work during the day. Cameron is having an absolute blast with his Gabby and is being spoiled rotten with attention. He’s loving every second.

Seeing family is nice; I just wish I could shake this permanent fog I’m in these days. I can’t sleep (and it’s not due to the baby), I’m full of anxiety, and things just don’t have the luster they used to. If it was feasible, I’d just take a week and spend it in bed watching Netflix (and probably gaining 10 pounds).

I think what has me down and lost is the added emotional labor that comes with being a mom. As women, there’s always this need to manage all the spinning plates: so many things we aren’t paid or acknowledged for that just keep lives running. Doc appointments, bills, cleaning things when they’re gross, stocking the fridge, ordering the pet food, feeding the pets, paying the pet-sitter, vet visits, budgeting, taking the clothes to the dry cleaner’s, and on and on and on. It’s not that Brandon wouldn’t do these things if asked… it’s that I have to remember every single one.

Having a child compounds that labor tenfold. The laundry multiplies. The dishes, too. The doctor’s appointments increase. The finding and balancing of childcare can be its own full-time job. Is the baby gaining weight? When did he last eat? He hasn’t pooped in 3 days. Should we feed him prunes? Is he too young for purees? He dropped his paci; can I just lick it and give it back? Does that make me a crappy mom? Am I giving him too much attention so he can’t adjust to being by himself? Am I giving him too little attention, so he won’t attach? Why am I not producing enough breastmilk? Why does he not want to take the breast? If I give him formula, am I a bad or lazy mom? Am I traveling for business too much? Does it mean I don’t care about my career if I don’t want to be away for 3 nights to do work? Brandon has the 2-seater car and I need to go to an appointment; how will we arrange nanny share pickup? Did the cat sit in the baby’s seat, and if so, is it dirty now? We’re out of formula. We ran out of formula too quickly. That means he’s not getting enough breastmilk. We’re in the car and he’s screaming; should I pull over or tough it out? And a million other things.

It’s exhausting. I have a new appreciation for stay-at-home moms these days, realizing I could never be one. I love my career and I need it. I think to some degree, it keeps me sane and mentally challenged in a different way.

I am fighting this inclination to succumb to being absorbed by my child, and then on the flip side, I also have this weird guilt about wanting to have my own life. It’s a strange dichotomy. I really like traveling, but I hate being away from my baby. I am forcing myself to take advantage of opportunities to do things that fulfill me, as I think it’s healthier for both Cameron and me. But this layer of guilt over every little thing was something I wasn’t expecting. I’m just so tired.

I need to get another bucket list going, so I have something to focus my energy on and to get me up and moving each day. My business is going great and after a short dip in hours, I’m slated to be back full-force next week. I’m really adjusting to–and loving–life as a freelancer, and I’m getting more confident in my abilities to drum up business. But the mental anguish is so tiring. I just want to feel normal again. Maybe this is the new normal.

My Vow To You, My Son

Cameron, you are my light and my world. You bring such joy to my life, and to your father’s life. You’ve changed everything, and the world is better because you are here.

To you, I make a solemn vow: I will raise you right. I will raise you the best I can. I will raise you as an advocate, a defender, and a pioneer. You will not follow in the footsteps of many who look like you, and who also come from privilege. I promise that, even though many times I will want to, I will not raise you to feel more important than others. Against all odds, I will raise a good man, with a good heart.

  • I will actively fight to expose your privilege, and we will have open and honest conversations about it. Your skin and gender aren’t things you chose or that you should feel guilty about, but they also are things you must not ignore or hide behind.
  • I will support any informed path you take with your body and sexuality. We created you to be a good person. As you age, I will raise you to make the best choices about the person you wish to become.
  • I will not criticize your choices as long as they are thoughtful, safe, and do not harm others. You can have green hair. You can wear tube socks on your arms. You can get a tattoo when you’re legally able. I won’t always love every choice, but they’re yours to make, and the mistakes you make are yours to make as well.
  • I will guide you to always take the fork in the direction of “goodness” and “kindness,” even when it’s uncomfortable. You will not fear the homeless. You will not feel uncomfortable being the only person in the room that speaks English (and ideally, you’ll be interested to learn more about the predominant language). You will be respectful of other cultures and religions. You will support and defend others’ rights to live as they choose.
  • I will encourage you to embrace any spirituality that suits you, and also encourage you to change your mind if you’re so inclined. I will support your quest to learn about any religions that interest you. I will answer questions about my beliefs candidly, but without a demand for reciprocity. The endless search for enlightenment is one of the great privileges we have as human beings, and I will not deny you that or judge you for it.
  • I will protect you with every ounce of my being from those that wish you harm, and I will do my best to remember that I will not always be there to do that. I will arm you with the best resources I can to protect yourself and your heart from pain. I will also arm you with the resources to manage the pain you can’t avoid.
  • I will educate you as you grow. I will protect your innocence for as long as I can, but I also will not hide the truth from you as it ekes its way into your purview. I will be your advocate and support system, and the person you can ask anything of.
  • I will demand that you treat every living person with kindness, and treat them as an equal. Moreover, I will ensure you are outspoken when it comes to your peers doing the same, for you have the privilege to speak out when others can’t.
  • I will love you and snuggle you and tell you how amazing and incredible you are, regularly. Often. But you will also know the world does not revolve around you. We will learn patience and tolerance together, and it will be a lifelong journey. (It continues to be for me.)
  • I will remind you and others that education is not just a product of school. It is a product of the home, and of the world. You will travel and see how others live. You will not live in an insular bubble. You will appreciate your opportunities because you will be exposed to those who don’t have them. You will recognize how lucky you are.
  • I will raise you to be confident and driven. You will believe in yourself. But you will know there is a fine line between confidence and entitlement. I will do my best to prepare you not to cross that line too often.

 

I will raise you to be better than me, because you are. You are a clean slate. You are perfection. I vow to you, baby, that I will not fail you. I will give you everything I have, and prepare you for a world that you will help to make a better place.

Cameron, my love, it’s going to be an amazing journey. I promise to do my best for you, and for the future.

Love,

Mommy

Want to know where this Millennial’s money goes?

There seems to be a rumor in this country that Millennials are frivolous with their money.

That may be true sometimes. I do get Dunkin’ Donuts. I do travel. I can confidently say I’ve never bought avocado toast.

But let me just give you a quick picture of monthly expenses and let you do the math for whether this is affordable on a couple entry-level salaries. And keep in mind, this is Atlanta – not NY or San Francisco.

 

Monthly

Mortgage/Insurance/Taxes – $1200 (going to $1450 in a couple months due to tax assessments). Our house was very inexpensive, intentionally.

Childcare – $1400 (a nanny 2 days a week and a nanny share 3 days a week, covering a total of 23 hours/week. He couldn’t get into daycare despite being on 2 waiting lists since I was 6 months pregnant. FT daycare would have been $1300/month.)

Family Health Insurance – $1000

Car Insurance – $100

Life Insurance – $90

Vet care and heartworm/flea meds (pro-rated average) – $100

Utilities (internet, streaming services, electric, gas, car gas, water) – $450

Cell phones – $150

Car payment – $400 (we pay extra on this each month; we have a used Prius and the other car is paid off)

Food – $300 (if we’re frugal and eat only at home)

 

That’s $5,090 per month in basic, base expenses for a healthy family of 3. We could have bought a cheaper car. We could, I suppose, not have smartphones. We could not take care of our pets. But there isn’t a lot to shave off here.

Now consider that the average entry-level job in our industry is going to pay $40k. After taxes (at a low tax bracket), that’s maybe $2500/month. Multiply that by 2 people and you’re not even covering the most basic expenses each month, much less putting anything into savings.

Where does Millennials’ money go?

A broken, crappy system that means your childcare costs more than your mortgage and your health insurance is a close third.

Democrats advocate for a universal healthcare plan and more childcare program options for parents. Housing subsidies and stronger support for the middle class, instead of the top 1%.

Tell me why you voted Republican again? And tell me where I’m wasting my money?

“Before 30”

Tonight, I close the door on one era of my life and open another. It’s the last night of my twenties, and tomorrow I hit the dreaded 3-0 decade.

So much has happened since I turned 20. So much has happened even since I started this blog four years ago.

I’ve traveled four continents. Swum with sting rays and surfed (poorly). Spent years traveling to resorts and Caribbean-hopping for my job. Started my own business, which is going better than I could have imagined. I wrote three books, have spent endless time (and stupid money) renovating this house, our first home. I’ve found a new love for my wonderful husband. Traveled with my dad, got closer with my sister, settled a little bit in my spirituality, and challenged myself physically with mountain climbs, yoga, and 15ks. Everything is such a friggin’ balance that it feels like you really nail one thing in life, everything else suffers. It’s always an act of managing the spinning plates.

Most shockingly, and perhaps most importantly, Brandon and I brought a new life into the world – our amazing, sweet, strong-willed, beautiful Cameron. He has folded into our lives so seamlessly, and we wonder what life was like before him. He is my everything, but at the same time, he isn’t. I’m still me. I’m still annoyed that age continues to slide over my life like a dark cloud, I still have dreams, I still have friends. But Cameron has made all of it so much more challenging and enriching.

I have seen my husband through new eyes in these last few months. He has always been caring, but I have never seen a better and more loving father. I wanted to get closer to Brandon in this Before 30 journey; little did I know it would take something I never would have expected to include on my list to make that happen.

I hate aging. I really do. I haven’t embraced it at all yet. My whole childhood, I sprinted toward the finish line to be older and more respected. Somewhere around 24, I screeched to a halt. Slow down, I thought. Let’s let this marinate for a minute.

But life has a funny way of not listening to you, and my body doesn’t respond the way it used to, hangovers really suck now, my face isn’t fresh, and I’ll never be the cool one in the room again. (Not that I ever especially was.) I look back at photos from 10 years ago and I still think I look like that. I don’t.

What’s interesting, though, is in these last few months, I’ve cared a little less about those things. I’m seeing the world through a new set of eyes and experiencing life brand new again. Cameron is fearless, thrilled to encounter everything, and un-jaded by a world in which it’s especially easy to feel jaded, angry, and “less than.” I hated that we were bringing him into a world so rocked by turmoil in our country, but little did I know he’d be my rock and solace as we wade through it. I just hope he’s too young to remember any of this garbage.

So tomorrow, at 7:01pm, I will be 30. My list will begin anew with some grand plans before 40 (which I hear is the new 30). I haven’t accepted it yet, and I wish I could age more gracefully.

But time marches on, the body starts to sag, and I am reminded every day of all the fun and adventures I still have ahead of me. They aren’t on a big bucket list, and maybe I’ve done some of them before. But it’s the big, bright, happy eyes I’ll be viewing them through that will make all the difference.

He’s Here

We are a little over 1 month out from the big 3-0 birthday that this blog has been leading up to, and so much has changed over the course of 4 years.

I suspected we might decide to have a child before this birthday, but even a year ago, I had started to doubt it would happen on that timeline. We still didn’t quite feel ready. But the universe had another plan for our family, and we welcomed our beautiful angel, Cameron, on 2/18/17.

I am a little cynical by nature and there’s not a lot I don’t comfortably joke about. Brandon and I kid each other about very dark subjects and have trouble doing sentimental things without a wink and a nod of irony. Throughout my pregnancy, we joked about the little “mofo” inside of me, not because we didn’t love him or care, but because that’s just who we’ve always been as jokesters. We’re that way with our pets, with each other.

Suddenly, we met Cameron and I couldn’t bring myself to joke darkly or to be quite so flippant. All the insistence I’d had that I wouldn’t lose myself, that he’s wouldn’t be all I wanted to talk about or think about, flew out the window. Brandon and I both unabashedly celebrate poops and call him sweet nicknames like “Squeaker,” “Squish,” and “AngelBaby.”

I am still a businesswoman. I look forward to returning to work.

I am still an artist. I write songs; I write books.

I am still Alexis. I am just better now.

And so is the world, because Cameron is a part of it.

I realized he was with me all this time. Spiritually, maybe, forever. Physically, for a long while. He made history as part of the Women’s March in January. He’s been to five states already. He’s been to heavy metal karaoke and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. He loves podcasts, because he’s listened to them for ten months now.

Cameron hasn’t deterred me from realizing my dreams; he’s contributed to them. No one is more surprised than me. He is my sidekick, and I am his. Cameron will see musical theater, travel the world, fight for others, and become this amazing human being that’s so much different and better than both Brandon and me. We can see it already, and we are so blessed to witness it.

This little being I was so sure would disrupt my life has done so. And I am so much better for it. He is a perfect little being who will drive us nuts and we’ll love him unconditionally anyway. Cameron is incredible, beautiful, wonderful, hilarious, sweet, adorable, and heart-meltable.

And with that, I welcome 30. With a slightly unfulfilled bucket list, but close enough.

Because my bucket is currently overflowing, I look about 40 years old,  and my boobs are at my knees and leaking onto the floor.

And I couldn’t be happier about it.

Post baby plans, for those interested

 

Hi everyone,

Brandon and I have been discussing post-baby plans and we wanted to update any family and friends who might plan to visit our little bundle after he arrives. We’re excited to see you and hope you’ll bear with us during this transitional time when we expect to be exhausted and overwhelmed for a good while. 🙂

 

We look forward to sharing Cameron with the world, but we ask that you consult our anticipated timeline before making plans to visit. Thank you so much for all the love and support!

 

In-Hospital:

We will send an all-clear message out via text and/or Facebook once Cameron arrives, and visiting hours for family and friends will likely be 4-7pm during the days we are in the hospital, if you’d like to stop by (no need to arrange specifics with us in advance as long as you’re coming during these times). Our update will let you know if the things change but that’s our plan for now.

 

Should you plan to visit us in the hospital or in the first two weeks (for immediate families), please ensure you are up-to-date on your TDAP shot. MinuteClinic offers these for around $30, I think, if you have insurance. Note that it takes 2 weeks for the TDAP to kick in.

 

Week 1 at home:

We ask that guests do not come by at all during this time as we adjust to our new lives and bond as a family. My mother will be around to help with logistics each day for a few hours, but otherwise, we’d like to keep this time private. Although if anyone has a burning desire to take the dogs on a walk or have them at their house, let us know. 🙂 We are stocked up on food and supplies and although we appreciate your love and support, we want to spend this time recovering and bonding.

Week 2 at home:

We ask that our immediate families (only) stop by the house during this time, with a 4-7pm window as well. During this time, Bonnie may also be helping us for a few hours a day as well with logistics if her schedule allows.


Week 3 at home:

Extended and immediate families are welcome to visit from 5-8 each day.

 

Week 4 at home:

Friends and all family are welcome to visit from 5-8 each day.

 

We may be more comfortable with guests earlier on than we anticipate, but we’re taking a “better safe than sorry” approach since we expect to be completely wiped out and we want to be as fresh-faced as possible when we welcome guests. We don’t mean to be rude, we’re just kind of private people and we also want Cameron’s immune system to be as strong as it can be in his first weeks of life.

 

I should also note that we cannot accommodate any overnight visits, as our guest room is now Cameron’s room and there is no bed anymore. The couch is out in the open in our main living space. I also intend to be topless a lot, which is uncomfortable for all of us.

 

Should you need our help with hotel or travel arrangements, please let us know in advance so we can help there (which we’re more than happy to) – we’d love to see everyone but our house is just too small and not equipped for overnight stays moving forward.

 

Thanks!
Alexis and Brandon

It’s About To Hit The Fan

Nobody may care, but there’s been a lot floating around my mind over these last few months and even years on the direction we’re headed as a world economy, and how we need to best prepare ourselves for an inevitable bubble burst.

I’m not an economist. I’m not a philosopher, or a professor. I’m not a politician. I am indeed the product of my doomsday-focused father; I don’t always expect the worst but I’m not exactly a Pollyanna.

I also think if you’re open to the signs, it’s clear the path we’re on economically cannot last. And this new administration is going to rush the explosion.

First, here are my predictions.

  • Our healthcare situation is going to revert to the way it was back in the early 2000’s, and continue to get worse from there. Baby Boomers are at the greatest risk for an implosion of the system as we see those in poverty and old age unable to afford private healthcare, and going to hospitals for expensive treatments they have no coverage for (we already saw this happening pre-ACA; not that ACA is the be-all-end-all of solutions, but its intention was to help quell that). Those costs will inherently be transitioned, as they were and have been, to those paying premiums on their own healthcare coverage. Put simply, the ant is bearing the burden of the grasshopper. Costs will continue to balloon. Boomers and lower classes will drain the middle class in both healthcare and social security. To me, the way out of that is to create policies that benefit everybody so costs aren’t hidden in their transition to the middle class but more evenly distributed between the supremely rich and the poor. That’s a big reason I’m a Democrat in spite of it seemingly being outside of my personal favor as an upper-middle class white person. It’s proven economic logic.
  •  Job losses will continue. I don’t say this because we’ve got Republicans in office (although that won’t especially help); I say this because the world is changing much in the same way we saw with the Industrial Revolution. Forcing companies to “keep jobs in America” (which is a ridiculous approach to begin with) is going to result in those companies automating the jobs they’re outsourcing – not paying premium prices to workers in the States. These companies will pay for robots. Machines. Code. The same kind of code Brandon implements that saved his company multiple jobs last year. You can look at that as cruel, heartless, callous. Companies will look at that as Capitalism. Cheaper labor than anything they’d get overseas. I’m sorry, America. Your jobs aren’t coming back, no matter who promises you the moon and stars.
  • We’re in a bubble. Like, a friggin’ huge bubble. Stocks are rising. Venture capital is outrageously pricing tech, to unfathomable and unsustainable degrees. Real estate has bubbled to nearly pre-recession levels, and brokers are giving the same kinds of crappy loans they always have, and calling them new names. Americans are over-extending themselves with the false security of a healthy economy. Banks are going basically unrestricted and our country’s debt, meanwhile, is high beyond the point of reasonable recovery due to the bailouts that saved us from our mini heart attack in 2007.

 

These shifts are, short-term (over the next decade), going to create a massive amount of unrest, joblessness, poverty, and class division like we’ve never seen in our lifetimes. Call me Chicken Little, but when this bubble blows, I anticipate a worse situation than the Depression. We’ll have the largest generation in history (Boomers) draining the resources of all those younger than them, coupled with crippling joblessness and national debt.

Long-term, this is actually a good thing. It will mean that by the time the Boomers die out, a large generation of Millennials and Gen Z will be able to replace them with new policies, new habits, and more spending power than they’d had when the bottom fell out. It will mean we adapt to fewer people working in general, and companies forced to pay premiums in taxes for those they no longer hire. It will likely, one day, mean a guaranteed minimum wage similar to welfare being implemented at larger levels, but companies also being taxed accordingly to pay for it. It will also mean a transition to significantly less consumption, stronger environmental effects that will help combat global warming, and the resetting of an over-inflated world economy that was destined to collapse.

But there isn’t avoiding the fact that we’ve got a rough decade ahead of us.

 

I can’t tell you what to do, or even what the smartest ideas are out there to prepare for this burst. Because I truly believe it’s not a matter of prevention (it’s going to happen), it’s a matter of preparation. All I can do is tell you what we are personally doing, or trying to do, to help offer some ideas as you plan for your approach to life. Will you be the grasshopper, who finds himself facing a cold winter unprepared, or the ant, who stockpiled his resources for the days to come? I can’t answer that for you, and I can’t guarantee we’ll come out unscathed. I’m sure, in fact, we won’t. But to bury your head in the sand is the one action we know won’t help in the event of something bad happening.

  • We’re living beneath our means. Duh, not everyone can do this. But we tried doing this early on in our careers so we could maintain a similar standard as we worked our way up over time. We own a home that cost 1/5 of what a bank told us we could “afford,” and we invested in a neighborhood that was on the low starter end of its bell curve. We didn’t over-extend ourselves to maximize equity. Our home has risen in value over the years and even if the economy bottoms out to pre-recession levels, we don’t anticipate we could go underwater. But regardless, this approach also means we can afford to keep our home in the event that one of us loses a job. At the time, we planned that way because we are both in a tenuous industry (ad agencies). Now, we’re grateful we did in the event of larger-scale economic redundancy. Don’t get me wrong: we’re not perfect at this, and not by a long shot. We take a lot of damn vacations. We travel. We spend a lot of money renovating the house. We have roughly 6 million pets we feed. But we’re trying our best to save our pennies and live below our means.
  • I’ve stopped investing in my 401k this year. WHAT?! That might sound stupid, but hear me out. Brandon gets a company match, which we maximize, because we’re leaving money on the table otherwise. I get no match as a self-employed person, outside of what I match with my own S-Corp umbrella (a long, complicated conversation that may lead to me eventually investing again for tax reasons, but there’s a balance to be struck). The stock market peaked in mid 2015 and has been slowly sliding ever since. The money you invest in your 401k today has a reasonable chance, in my prediction, of being worth substantially less in the next year or two. My theory is I’ll wait, save my money in a low-earning but “safe” bank account, and buy up bottomed-out stocks when they are at their lowest values. Timing is hard to predict, but it seems to make more sense to me than investing in a stock market at the top of its game. Now, this does nothing for us in the case of the dollar losing its inherent value. Which is why…
  • We’re considering diversification. That’s an easy statement to make and much harder to confidently implement. I don’t see real estate (at least in America) as a safe bet. What is the commodity that will thrive in a down economy, though? Specific international bets in either money or property? Gold? Gasoline (ha)? Bitcoin? Weed? This is the kind of research we need to do to ensure all our eggs aren’t in the American Dollar Basket. This might sound extreme, but by at least diversifying some of what we have, we’ll hedge our bets against everything going down the tubes.

That’s a short summary of standard things we’re doing to try and brace for the impact of a possible collapse. It doesn’t mean we’re changing our entire lifestyle or burying a bunker in our backyard, but it’s better to try and be safe than sorry, watching the patterns of history repeat themselves. What are you doing to secure yourself against the gravy train ending soon?