Thursday, April 16, 2009

Matters of Housewifery

Last year I was out of work for about 6 full months. It messed with my sense of self-worth, my sleep schedule, my bathing, everything. The novelty of being able to hang around with my friends wore off quickly; I was semi-trapped in our modest home with our flock of pets day in and day out. Saying I was going crazy as a housewife is a major understatement. Once I was able to find a job again- working part-time for 24 Hour Fitness and working for the Obama campaign for actual money- the first thing I did was find somebody else to pay to do some of my chores. A friend, Brieanna Robertson, is a published author and editor, but also pays her bills by running her own cleaning business. A person I could pay and trust to clean my house? I signed up in a heartbeat. Now, my house get's dusted, scrubbed and vacuumed twice a month, and IT IS HEAVEN.

Unfortunately, I couldn't outsource all of my responsibilities. While my hubband is the 'bread winner' and takes responsibility for the majority of our finances, I handle the utilities and coordinate the payments for these services. The economy is bad and businesses have many deals and incentives to hand out to get your business. I switched to a DISH Network promotion for our television and shaved $60/month off our bill for the next year, and $35/month from that point on. Television settled, I decided to tackle the phone- I was able to drop $15/month for additional services to our seldom used home phone. Then, there was the internet: 1.5meg service from AT&T for $30? Not anymore; Charter offered us 5meg for $40. The $10 increase was well worth the money, especially with the tech addiction the hubband and I share, and was certainly nullified by the approximately $70 in savings I'd managed.

I had written documentation of all prices, contracts, requirements, and appointments to protect myself, and be sure I got the deals I had worked for. My diligence paid off and the installs all went well- our services were changed over with relative ease, and have all worked beautifully. Unfortunately, when I checked our bills I noticed Charter had me down for $57/month, a rather large discrepancy, and my heart sank. I contacted them first by their internet chat feature, and the rep quickly told me he couldn't handle the issue. I was given the number for Level 2 support. I repeated my story and was told that even this second gentleman couldn't help me- he transferred me to Advanced Account Support. I was pretty concerned this was going to be a painful and frustrating process by this point. I once again explained the situation, being as concise and friendly as possible.

First the rep challenged me, but I informed him of the very thorough verification I had done before, and told him precisely what I had arranged originally with the first rep. Immediately he offered to correct the problem, adjusting the price for the 5meg internet to $40/month for a full year without a contract or same speed guaranteed at $30/month with a 2 year contract. Commitments can be an bottomless source of annoyance, but the price, infrequency with which we change our utilities, and the reasonable termination fee ($75 in first year, $50 in second) certainly piqued my interest. He then offered to increase to 10meg speed for $10 more, no additional commitment. I was sold.

All in all, the process took about an hour to set up all the swaps and switches, and a couple of afternoons at home while it was done. The billing debacle ended up getting me a better deal, and only took 15 minutes of my time. Well worth my efforts, and now we have better service and more features for less money. I encourage everyone to take a chance to review their utility expenses- you never know what sort of deals you can get.

Welcome to the show, please unwrap your candy now.

I've lost a fair amount of weight lately. Something in the range of 27lbs. This has caused a few people to notice, including my mother. My mother and I haven't always had the best relationship. Typical of Mothers and Daughters we often found ourselves in opposition over things. For me though, some other problems were present.

I have very early memories of my mother calling me fat. I mean very early- we're talking 4 years old. There was a girl that lived across the street named Heather who was so close to my age that our Birthdays are only two days apart. My mother would refer to Heather as "Skinny Minnie" and Feather because Heather's naturally thin build was, in my mother's eyes, an ideal that I simply failed to meet. In pictures she would always point out what a fat baby I was and how chubby I was, all the while contrasting with her own stories of how she was the thinnest, lightest girl in her cheer squad, or that she weighed under a hundred pounds before she got pregnant.

For a member of the Nintendo Generation, the media played very little part in the development of my body image issues. Realistically, I can't recall times where anonymous talking heads on the TV have ever had the power to make me feel bad about myself. My friends, although all thinner and taller, also never made me feel inadequate. Unfortunately all the positive outside influences were powerless to counteract my mother's mantra with regard to my appearance: "You'd be so pretty if you'd just lose some weight." She repeated this to me on a regular basis through all of high school and into college. The frequency of the comments decreased when I moved out, but they only stopped recently.

My mother and I get along well now. If you need examples of how extraordinary she is, you only need read the article I wrote about her for Reno Tahoe Tonight a couple of months ago. I am grateful to have her in my life, and hope to have many more years with her, but the past still lingers for me- I have to work very hard to graciously accept her compliments without snide references to the horrible things she's said in the past. For me, my weight loss now amounts to more than a victory over my horrible eating habits, or lax exercise routine, or even my negative body image. I'm using this transformation to overcome the lesser, petty parts of my nature. Some days it's hard, some days it's easy, but everyday it's worth it.