Friday, June 17, 2011

Choosing Celebration

Today marks two weeks since Jason was laid off. I haven't written about it here because we needed to work on things privately first. To panic. To rally. To see this as an opportunity for phoenix-like rebirths and reassessments. And to mourn a bit as I realize our "after the wedding" plans have now become "after Jason finds a job" plans and expenses. With the wedding finally done, I was ready to move on and move forward. But now, we're hunkering down and pulling back even more than before.

And it's really okay. Curveballs beget mental and emotional flexibility (and physical flexibility, I suppose, if you're using literal baseball speak).  Crises really do bring you closer and remind you of what's actually important.  

Financial crises also force you to make choices. Hard choices about what to cut and what to keep in your budget. But at the same time, they also make you treasure the Yes choices so much more. Scrimping makes me positively gleeful about splurges like farmer's market strawberries or a nice glass of happy hour wine with a special girlfriend. Finding free outdoor musical performances within walking distance of our apartment feels like a boozy picnic jackpot instead of a nice afternoon.

There are lots of ways to make budgeting an adventure, especially because we have the luxury of one salary that can take care of our basic needs. But there are still moments when fear and frustration pushes in at the edges. When I get resentful of waiting again. When I forget to feel lucky and wallow in the grump. And that's why I believe in splurges. That's why I don't always believe in hunkering down with the "No" of our changed financial situation. The No is important, but the Yes even more so. And this weekend, we're saying YES. Oh hell yes.

This weekend, we're taking back our birthdays. Jason spent his April birthday recovering from our Guatemala honeymoon (we arrived home at 1am that morning.) I spent my May birthday recovering from New York and then working (we got home at 4am after a delayed flight and I was at work by 9). We got through the jet lag with promises of make-up birthday celebrations at a special (expensive) restaurant we've been desperate to try. We had to make reservations weeks in advance. So we did. And then Jason got laid off. 

When we started slashing our budget, I spent a long moment considering whether we should cancel our birthday dinner. The panics were telling me to stash away that $100 for prudence's sake. But the rest of me screamed back a giant EFF YOU, WE'RE CELEBRATING OUR DARN BIRTHDAYS, DARNIT. Because I've needed something to look forward to and celebrate. And it really isn't as dire as the panics want me to believe. We have enough for our rent and bills, with something left over for strawberries. We have two fluffy kitties who keep Jason company as he looks for jobs and takes on some freelance projects. We have long summer nights and a cold June haze that finally seems to be burning away. And, if you want to be all sappy about it, we have each other too (and trust me, we are definitely all sappy about it.)

This weekend, we have a dinner at Osteria Mozza, where we are taking time to revel in the joys and celebrations of life. So happy weekend everyone, and here's a little reminder to get out there and celebrate, just because. 


  1. Thank you thank you for writing this. I quit my job last weekend; my last day is next Friday and we are back to living on one income, which has been the uncomfortably tight state of most of our relationship. I'm kicking myself a little bit for CHOOSING this, but also trying to remember how many things it's going to let me do: I'll be able to pursue opportunities I just didnt' have the time for before, and hopefully these things will both make me happy and help advance my career. And in the meantime, isn't is SATISFYING to find those free events? And isn't amazing how exciting a $10 meal out can be? Yes, I look forward to someday not stressing about rent, but it's nice to appreciate the little things. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. We'll be hitting up the free Shakespeare in the Park this weekend. Love me some free date nights.

    Married life becomes very apparent when a partner gets laid off, particularly during the newlywed phase. It brings great emotional challenges that are difficult, make you SO much stronger as a couple. I'm happy personally for that opportunity with The Candyman, but man, budgets suck.:)

    Keeping my digits crossed and flowing good employment karma in the westerly direction!

  3. I hope you guys have a wonderful reclaiming of your birthday celebrations!

    We are a one income couple, and I tend to be too much "no" when it comes to any unnecessary expenses. But I think you are very right that it is important to make some special "yes" choices too, even when money is tight. I am trying to be better at this...

    I wish you joy in these days (and, of course, an awesome job opportunity for Jason.)

  4. The economy is bad. No rocket back to pre-2008 levels for us. So dealing with these circumstances sensibly but with room for celebrations seems like the best possible approach for the beginning of a long and happy marriage. Oddly, congratulations.

  5. Good luck to your husband finding a new job. My husband was laid off right after we moved to a new apartment and he proposed three months into his unemployment. We made it through on his severance and unemployment.

    The hard part was returning to a more normal life afterwards. He started going to school full-time and then got a job and had to change to part-time in school. We hardly ever go out anymore, even though we have the money.

  6. I'm with you 100%. Having a serious budget helps you realize what's important and worth saving for and not buying and all of that, yes...but it also makes the times you splurge MEAN something again, you know? They're like instant memories...Remember that time we went all out even though we were in tough times...we had that fantastic dessert at that one place...and all of that.

  7. It's true - I appreciate every little splurge now. A movie used to be just another choice of how to spend our evening. Now it's something I look forward to for weeks. I haven't bought any new clothes or shoes or other personal things since... Sept. So when my mom offered to buy me a new summer dress when we were out running errands, I was practically dancing with excitement, LOL.

    I'm glad you're still able to find some wiggle room for celebrating. Our 1st anniversary is this Monday, and when I was going over our budget, part of me thought, "Maybe I should just make another dinner at home." And then we decided... no, it's worth the $40 to mark the occasion in a special way - and not do dishes for one night. Half-price sushi, here we come! ;)

    Hope your joint b-day do-over is a fantastic time.

  8. @Birdroughsit - I'm so excited for your grad school opportunity! It really is an investment, and it's also really hard to remember that sometimes on rice and beans nights. We all need the reminders.

    @T30SB - It's been strange to realize how healthy this has been for our relationship. Not fun, and it has its own relationship stresses, but it really makes us value the marriage even more.

    @Adventures- I know how easy it is to slip into defining everything as a worthwhile Yes. But sometimes we have to (just so long as it's not normal and still fits in the budget.)

    @Bri - That must have taken a lot of faith in each other, so it sounds like you guys can survive anything. Also, I wonder if the shift in staying home is also a function of age? We're much more pro-dinner party than pro-bar. And it doesn't hurt that it's less expensive either (especially since we understand the need for savings from personal experience.)

    @margaret - YAY! I hope you have an amazing anniversary dinner and enjoy every moment of the celebration!

  9. Gee, Becca - I'm sorry. Especially given that Jason only moved jobs about six months ago, taht sucks.

    I hope Jason finds something soon.

  10. Wait, wait. Wait a sec. Your cold June haze seems to be burning off?

    Can I come live with you?

    We haven't seen the sun since, like... Wednesday. Or was it Tuesday? And that was when it finally came out at SIX THIRTY IN THE EVENING.

    ALSO, I am currently wearing a blanket over my long-sleeved shirt.

    Ah, the indignant spoiled Californian.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAYS! You guys rock. Here's to you for seeing the positive in the NO, and properly celebrating the occasional YES.

  11. @Lyn - when I wrote this post yesterday evening, the sun had burst through and the morning fog/sprinkles felt long gone. Which was a cruel trick that lulled me into thinking that June gloom might be dissipating altogether. HA. I am equally indignant about my cardigan and leggings today. Spoiled Californians, indeed.

  12. I'm so sorry for you guys to put the plans on hold but the attitude you have is incredibly inspiring.

  13. Enjoy Osteria Mozza! We've been once, and we loved it. The sommelier was so helpful and not at all snobby about helping us find a really good bottle of wine for the least amount of money possible.

    I'm so sorry for you and Jason - times are tough right now and I know the job market is discouraging. I'll keep my fingers crossed that the most amazing job will pop up.

  14. @Rachel - Really good to know. I really appreciate great wine with great food, but we thought we'd just order a glass each (to be a teeny bit prudent.) But now maybe we can entertain the idea of a non-stratospherically expensive bottle of wine...


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