Average Workday

This is the city. Los Angeles, California.

I work here. My name’s Urbanite.

(OK, that’s not really my name or what I look like, but I’ve decided to keep my identity semi-anonymous so I can be totally honest here.)

It’s 1:02 p.m. I’m at the office, as are the rest of the 9-to-5ers in the city. Outside it’s 77°. Inside, it’s only slightly cooler. I work in a dark office because I had the fluorescent overhead lights disconnected. I should be putting my nose to the grindstone, but I’m having trouble concentrating. I stayed up too late last night with my head full of ideas for this blog. I even made a long list of topics. I figured we should get to know each other a little better before I start into anything too deep, though.

I eat lunch at my desk pretty much every day. Sometimes I eat with coworkers, but generally I choose to shovel food in my mouth while staring at my computer screen. Why? Probably habit. My last boss made it pretty clear that that was the appropriate way to have lunch. Nope, not bitter.

I work for a small company with seven employees. I’m part of the leadership team, so three people report to me. I also make lots of decisions. I used to hate my job under the previous regime, but one new boss and a title change later, things are a lot better. Being unhappy at work every day was pretty much a nightmare and it devastated the rest of my life. I have spent the past year battling with depression, but I’m hopeful that that’s abating with the changes. I work in social services, more or less, so even though I have a fairly fancy title, I make very little money. But more on that later.

Today is a public-transportation day. My husband and I share one car, and the lucky bastard has tickets to a Conan taping today, so he commandeered Esme (my Mazda). Often I can hitch a ride home with either my boss or one of two coworkers, but not today. It takes about an hour to go the 12 miles home by car; by bus(es), it’s over 15 miles and two long hours. And of course I forgot my book. And the fact that I don’t wear skirts on the bus. Oh well. I will survive.

I live with my husband in a one-bedroom apartment. We lucked into a rent-controlled building that is pretty well maintained, but we still pay more than double what we did for a similar place in our Midwestern hometown. We got married in February, six months after our arrival here and only seven weeks after getting engaged. That’s how we do things.

My husband is my opposite in many ways. He’s funnier, louder, and more outgoing than me. I’m not shy, but I am growing more socially awkward and introverted with age. He’s the life of every party, and I’m frankly no fun at all in groups without a drink in my hand. He’s big and dark; I’m small and pale. We moved here largely so he could pursue work in the entertainment industry, so until the big break comes, we subsist mainly on my less-than-$40,000-a-year paycheck. His work does bring in a little extra cash, but it’s not regular or large enough to depend on.

It’s been a long, hard year of adjustments: to a new home, to marriage, to being semi-broke all the time. There have been a lot of fights and tears and overdrawn bank accounts. It’s hard to talk about money, and it’s really hard when the conversation is always, “well, I’d love to do X, Y or Z, but we’re probably not going to make it through the end of the month as it is” — especially when X, Y or Z is buy new underwear. So now we’re budgeting for real, which I’m hoping works better than the cross-your-fingers-and-hold-your-breath approach.

I have a real budgeting post planned for the beginning of October, so stay tuned, if that is the kind of thing that interests you. We are currently tracking and categorizing our expenses using Mint, and then we will look at the information at the end of the month to decide where we want our money to go. Oh money talk, how you haunt us.

So that’s some background on me that will hopefully help you understand where I’m coming from in posts to come. My struggles are not unique, but that’s part of what makes them worth sharing.


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