Archive for October, 2009

I just completed a telephone questionnaire required for life insurance.  I’d been putting it off for a few days because they always call when I’m in the bathroom – seriously, they had an eerie sense for my digestive processes.  The interview was mostly focused on my medical history, a bit more in depth than the questions asked by the nurse who did our blood work.  It was, in a word, irritating.  This woman, who I will call Grumpers, clearly hates her job and has very little understanding of medical jargon.  Grumpers was asking me ridiculous questions (through no fault of her own, obviously).

She opened with “have you been to any medical professional in the past five years.”  At this point, I realized that this was perhaps not the ideal time for this conversation, as my memory was terrible, I was in the parking lot of a coffee shop, and it’s cold outside.  But I forged on.

She ran out of boxes.  RAN OUT. I know my medical history is colorful, but seriously, it’s not that bad.  Just a bunch of minor things – a little wrist reconstructive surgery here, and little tonsilectomy there.  Some wacky optic neuritis stuff.  Maybe some bronchitis.  You know, whatevs.

Grumpers wasn’t sure what to do when she ran out of boxes.  So she just went on ahead.  “Have you had any diagnostic procedures in the past five years?” I’m sure all the other patrons on the porch were wondering if it hurt for me to roll my eyes that much.  It’s bizarre, they literally wanted this information off the top of my head – names of physicians, dates of treatment, specific drugs, for the past five years.  And I am more conversant in this medical crap than most people I know – I do know drug names, procedure names.  I can say and spell triangular fibrocartilaginous complex without stumbling.

Anyway, it took 30 minutes instead of the alleged 10, I uttered the phrase “vaginal ultrasound” in a coffee shop parking lot, and now I’m quite glad to have it over with so I can get back to finishing up with editing the ol’ dissertation and waiting for periodic updates on the first day of work from the Husband.

Oh, and regarding my emo post from last week – my ankle is mostly better, my tear ducts are still stupid, Husband is safe and sound and bored in WA, and I spent all weekend knitting and pretending grad school didn’t exist.  I am much, much calmer now 🙂


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Today…  today has not been my favorite day.  Hasn’t been my favorite week.  I’ve been cranky for days, sleeping poorly (and somehow too much, also… I guess those go hand in hand), snapping at people.  Great way to behave when your days are numbered.

I think that’s the underlying cause.  My husband is flying out to WA at the ass crack of dawn on Saturday.  I’m following him in one month, maybe two…  between now and then I have to finish my dissertation, defend, pack (that word should really be longer, to match its shitty time consuming nature), and say my goodbyes.  I suppose it makes sense that the combined stress of this is morphing me into a moody bitch, but damn if I wish I couldn’t stop it.

It doesn’t help that at frisbee tonight I got rebuffed in front of all the rookies – unfairly, in my opinion.  Told to stop talking down to someone, when all I’ve been trying to do is go where I’m told (since I’m graduating and not playing in the spring).  I don’t understand how these girls don’t see that I am stretched tenuously thin, how they can be so self absorbed.  And how they can handle themselves so inappropriately – on what planet do you holler at someone in front of everyone else?  Is that normal?  I would pull the offending person aside and discuss it elsewhere.  And when I did that after the fact, to clear the air, I don’t think an apology ever actually materialized, just excuses. I’m surprised all the rookies haven’t gotten scared away by the craziness yet.

So then I sprained my ankle, and it’s getting all swollen, which is awesome – I have to drive a lot this weekend, and Husband can’t drive my car (why doesn’t he know how to drive a manual?  uaher;kbn;alken)

And then I get home, looking forward to basically melting into a puddle of emotional blubbering, and find Husband to be MIA…  apparently he’s at a soccer game.  Which, in reality, is totally fine, but in Universe Hates Susie Land, was like the coup de grace.

So, I start crying for the first time in oh, a year?  and can’t just give myself over to that and get it out of my damn system, because I got my tear ducts plugged today (lacrimal occlusion), because I have chronic dry eyes ever since that time I got optic neuritis and got whopped with a ridiculous quantity of steroids, and if I cry it’ll dry my eyes out even more and I won’t be able to see tomorrow (you know, worse than usual) on top of not being able to drive well because my ankle is sprained and I’ll pay for it in spades all weekend.


You can measure the degree of my anxiety by the length of my run on sentences.  True story.

My life is SOOOO hard.  First world problems FTW.

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Wasting Time

I find myself procrastinating more and more as I near the finish line… Today while I’m lackadaisically running simulations to tie up some loose ends, I’ve been reading old posts by Errol Morris on the NYT blog about photography (Zoom).  The blog has a number of lengthy, multi-part series on old photographs.  I read the first two of a seven part series currently running about depression-era photos (e.g. Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Woman) and whether they are posed, and whether it matters if they are posed.

Craving a completed series, I moved on to one on the Crimean War.  I found the following paragraph buried in it, which, though it is certainly not the most captivating part of the very verbose series, enthralled the knitter in me:

The Crimean War, often described as a precursor to the American Civil War, is more a harbinger of World War I – a stationary front informed by endless and futile exchanges of lethal artillery fire. Trench warfare par excellence. Lord Raglan, the commander of the British forces, previously the Duke of Wellington’s aide-de-camp, lost his arm to a French cannonball at Waterloo. His specially designed sleeve – the Raglan sleeve, along with the cardigan and the balaclava – is how we remember the Crimean War. A war defined by innovations in wardrobe – a sleeve, a sweater and a hat. Raglan, who died in the Crimea just before the fall of Sebastopol, seemed often confused about what was going on. He would exhort his soldiers to go out and fight the French and had to be reminded that in this particular war the Russians were the enemy. The French were his allies.

I used to be quite the history buff – I honestly believe I may have gotten every single answer on my AP U.S. History exam exactly correct – but I’ve been thwarted by my poor memory and the myriad other subjects demanding my attention.  I miss the rich, albeit  partial view you can gain of other times and places.  I think the historical record of now will be slightly absurd for the overly detailed and scattered records being kept by everyone and their mother, myself included.


Unrelatedly, though from the same article, my favorite phrase of the day (or perhaps, ever):

You could just make out the orange roofs of a large building complex. Gorbachev’s summer home. It kind of looked like a metastatic International House of Pancakes.

This doesn’t conjure visions of the actual IHOP building, but rather little outcroppings of pancakes, stacked high, all over the countryside.

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I’m really ..  excited.  About god knows what.  I don’t know, maybe it’s like… dissertation induced insanity.  I like it.

I’m psyched about my lovely dear friend’s art,  and how I want it all over my house.  I’m excited about my house.  I’m excited about Washington.  I’m excited about finishing grad school and making my husband call me Dr. Wife for at least two weeks.

I’m excited about seeing my family for the holidays – we just bought the most expensive plane tickets of my life.  It’s like…  I think I will enjoy them so much more because I will only get to see them for a bit.  That sounds terrible, but it’s true – we squabble like children when we are together too much.

Excited about playing frisbee before Thanksgiving…  Turkey Tourney, with good friends I’ve not gotten to know for long enough.  An excellent last tournament…

I can’t wait until I’m finished with this sweater dress I’m knitting.  Nearly done.  Also can’t wait to start the next three things I’m planning to make.  Excited about all the movies I’ve never seen that we’re going to watch during our first winter in a strange place.  And the research I get to do at my new job.

Hah now I’m excited, and irritated with myself for over-using that damn word…

Ahhh did one of my roommates slip me something?  This is ridiculous.

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Life Insurance 101

So.  Life insurance.  I’m feelin’ like a big kid lately.

Shortly after the wedding, a friend on my frisbee team who works for Northwestern Mutual contacted us, asking if we would be interested in getting some life insurance.  At first, I felt like that was something we could put off, but since we are buying a house (i.e. taking on a substantial amount of debt), life insurance makes a lot of sense.  While Husband and I have budgeted so that we can afford our life style one only one salary though we are both working, I imagine we’d be pretty sad if the other got hit by a bus and died, possibly not working for awhile – and even though we’ve got emergency funds available, and a decent amount of investments, eliminating some of the financial pressure for a worst case scenario like that seems prudent.  So we agreed to meet with our friend (subsequently called NWFriend) – and that meeting occurred yesterday.

We were asked a ton of details about our financial attitudes and current financial situation, our life plans and goals, our health.  I kind of like having those conversations because they tend to stroke my ego a bit – I feel like Husband and I have done a good job of creating a great financial foundation for ourselves.  So NWFriend gave us a bunch of info about different options, and based on our current life style and future goals, outlined what would be good for us to get.  We ended up getting a $500,000 term policy on me, and a $650,000 term policy on Husband, both expiring at age 80 (this is a standard age limit).  The premiums are $20/month for me and $30/month for him, so pretty low in terms of our income.  The premiums increase every year over the duration of the policy, but very slowly at first.  However, if we still have the policies when we are 75, it will cost something like $10k a year each.  That sounded crazy at first, but it’s not.  First of all, it’s standard amongst all term policies, and second of all – it makes sense.  When you are 75, you are probably going to kick it soon.  Plus, having relatively higher expenses for life insurance are offset by (presumably) having lower expenses for things like housing.

We wanted to get policies that would allow us to pay off the major debts we have (~240K house loan, 10k student loan debt) so that the reduced income wouldn’t send the survivor into having to spend down our savings.  Also, in anticipation of other life changes that will likely occur in the next 5-10 years (one or more kids), we wanted to get enough that the survivor could invest the remainder of the money and receive monthly income off that investment.  250k invested roughly equates to about $1000 a month in income.  As neither of us anticipate being a stay-at-home parent, we can currently assume that 500k and 650k policies are adequate.  Often in situations where a woman is a stay-at-home mom and the man works, you would end up with $500k and $2 mil. policies, respectively (once kids are a certainty/actually exist).  We got a more expensive policy on Husband because boys die sooner, and because if I die tragically, Husband is more likely to bury himself in work, whereas in the opposite scenario, it’s entirely possible that I would stare at a wall for a year.  This is true for us, and true generally for most couples.

We got a higher policy amount for me than many couples choose at our age, because of my high earning potential and because of my health risk factors for MS.  As NWFriend said repeatedly, the cheapest life insurance you can get is what you should have bought yesterday – because I’m currently healthy and should easily pass the physical, I can get a cheap policy that won’t change if I do end up having MS; if we waited to buy more until I developed MS I would either be uninsurable or insurable at great cost.  Also, it’s very easy to change the policy (though easier to reduce than increase).

Another aspect we talked about briefly and will look into more later is permanent life insurance.  While term runs out at a specified age (80), perm runs out when you die.  Perm sounded like a forced savings plan, where you purchase a policy amount at a fixed premium that never changes, and have that amount invested in the companie’s (i.e. NWM’s) mutual fund, which has received at lease a 6.5% dividend (I think it was dividends) for the past 150 years (that was the line NWFriend fed us at least!).  Then you can receive the dividends as cash or reinvest them (like for any mutual fund).  For the term policy we purchased, we can choose to convert any portion of it to permanent before we turn 60.  I’m sort of fuzzy on the details of permanent insurance – I want to look into it more, but it sounds like a intersection of life insurance and forced mutual fund investment.

Life insurance is often offered by employers, and while we will likely take advantage of the highest policy amount we can get without needing a physical, we don’t want to rely on this alone.  If we did, and one or both of us lost our jobs, and then tragedy struck – well, that sucks.

Ok, so back to our purchased term life insurance -we went ahead and set up an automatic bank draft, and are already insured less than 24 hours later.  We had our physicals this morning (I won – my pulse and blood pressure were totally lower than Husbands!  Suck it!), which included medical history, height and weight, urine sample and blood draw.  We didn’t warn our roommates before hand, so they came down to breakfast to find us giving blood to some random lady in the kitchen.  Good times.

Finally, while I don’t think it would be a big deal if we had waited a few years to purchase life insurance policies (perhaps until we were actively trying to reproduce), I feel good about having gone ahead and taken care of it.  Partially because I have morbid anxiety problems and think about that hit-by-a-bus scenario on a daily basis, and partially because it makes me feel all grown up and responsible and holier-than-thou.  You know, if I’m being honest 🙂

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Can’t be bothered with paragraphs; dissertation is due in 2 weeks (wahhh!):

– Car is fixed.  Mechanics did something or other, possibly involving magic and duct tape (kidding!), and I will have it back this week or next (you know, whenever I have time to drive 3 hours away).  Part of me wishes I could have a shiny new car, but mostly I’ll be glad to have this one back.

– We got life insurance this morning.  It was really interesting and I’d like to talk about it more someday soon.  I am more inclined to talk about financial stuff on here than I would have guessed.

– I got really excited about decorating our new house last week, which is obviously what I should be focusing on right now.  Paint!  Furniture!  What style do we want?  I have never decorated before, as I have always lived in college houses with other people.  We mostly just keep all our crap in our room and it’s um…  really, it’s just messy.

– It’s raining here again.  A few weeks ago, before ATL flooded, I went running in the rain and the whole 4 miles I was thinking about how it might be the last time I get to run in the rain, because I’m moving to a desert, and oh it’s so lovely and let’s be nostalgic.  Now I would really just like them to turn off the damn faucet so I can stop feeling like a drowned rat, nostalgia be damned.

Ok, that’s all.  Boring/busy etc.  Back to panicking.

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Husband and I are having financial discussions on approximately a daily basis lately, since we are in the midst of buying a house.  And possibly also a car, as the computer in my 2003(!) nissan shorted out a few weeks ago, necessitating a costly repair that has been hampered by a “national backorder” on the part…  long story shorter, I have been without a car for nearly a month, and will be without one for at least another month.  For anyone out there doing the math, as Husband is moving in two weeks, that leaves me utterly carless very soon.  So, because the costly repair is nearly as much as the car itself is worth, and the time without a car at this particular juncture is pretty debilitating, we are looking at possibly buying a new (to me) car as well.

Anywaaaay, whenever we have these discussions, they are always very rational until we’ve established we can afford something.  Then, I like to throw in a little curve ball.  The “what if you get hit by a bus and die” contingency plan.  Husband deals with my morbid anxiety pretty well, and talks me through what would happen in the event of his untimely demise.  Then, we decide if whatever we are thinking of doing passes the Hit by a Bus Test, and then we proceed.

Neither of us has ever had any debt (beyond <10k in student loans between us), so looking at buying a house and financing a car is a pretty crazy jump to me.  I’ve been against financing cars (or most things, really – I’m a save first, buy later kinda girl) my whole life (ah I am so old and wise), but right now it looks like the planets might be aligning.  Between my unforseen car problems (Nissans don’t often kick the bucket at <80k miles! – my bro has well over 200k on his!) and the economy (woo for financing incentives!), I might just get myself a relatively newer and shinier car than I had ever anticipated.

I don’t even know where to begin looking…  oh, and I probably shouldn’t, because my dissertation is due in 20 days, and I am NOT. DONE.


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