Happy 2012! Reflections on years past…

Happy 2012! Reflections on years past…


front of our card


back of our card

I’m writing this from my iPhone because our Internet has been down for over 24 hours!! I really wanted to schedule it for 12:01 am, too… Anyway, I really wanted to share with you today, so thank goodness for my new phone!

We took these photos the day after Thanksgiving, and they were intended for our holiday card. Well, they didn’t make it before Christmas, so they became “Happy New Years!” cards. Considering I had to edit all the photos and design the card, then print them out and assemble them, I’m sure you can guess why it didn’t happen until after Christmas! My mother and I agree that it’s still “the holidays” until New Years, so i thought we should just go ahead with them since we spent so much time taking the photos, even if I don’t like the way they came out. I particularly dislike the family picture we got, and this was the best of probably 40 shots! I think my face looks huge, Laelia has her finger in her mouth, and Tyler doesn’t look very present… but whatever. My mom will probably love it.

The actual photoshoot itself was a huge ordeal in which Laelia cried and wouldn’t sit still for essentially the entire time, and it caused us to probably take at least TWO hours just snapping photos and it ended with me joining her in a cry fest! Needless to say, we didn’t get a photo we really loved, and everyone just ended up grumpy. Although I know that this is a totally normal occurrence when people attempt a family portrait, especially with young children, I don’t exactly understand WHY?!! Clearly, I’m a little scarred…

Anyways, time to reflect on the past year, and think about the next! 2011, although not without it’s hardships, was definitely better than 2009 or 2010. I’ve wanted to share a little bit about what we’ve gone through for a while, because I feel we can’t be alone, right? And we’ve felt very alone in all of this sometimes… (Fair warning; wordy-wordy-wordiness follows…)
2009 was hard for me and my husband; in January, two weeks after coming back from my third business trip overseas,  and after surviving many many rounds of massive layoffs, babystyle shut down most of the corporate office and announced its closure. The very same day we found out babystyle was closing its doors, Tyler signed a 2 year contract for a job that would pay him double what I made at babystyle. This took the edge off of loosing a job I loved but  it definitely turned out to be too good to be true. Anyway, seeing as the job market was horrible and I was getting married in a few months, I decided to wait until after our wedding to really focus on getting a new job. I started freelancing  for Charlotte Russe the week after our wedding, and I got pregnant about month later! That was when we decided I would stay home and work freelance and take care of our child. The job market had not “rebounded” yet and I didn’t want to stress out about getting hired while pregnant nor the subsequent maternity leave, child care and pumping at work that would occur (Moreover, my job is absolutely doable from home. I wish more employers realize this…). We thought everything would be okay, considering Tyler’s work could easily support us with out me working anyway (I’m obviously the sort of woman who needs an outlet, so I need to do some sort of work and have consistent personal growth in order to maintain my happiness… I also intend to go back to work by the time my children are school aged, if I haven’t built my own business by then!); well, what can I say–we were young and naive and believed the B.S. about if you are a patient, good, honest, hardworking person that you will be rewarded. Actually, we still believe that, but we also know that it can make you vulnerable. The owner of this company was taking advantage of my sweet husband and his endless patience and understanding (and his distinct desire to avoid conflict and confrontation). Invoices started getting paid in half by April. We still managed to pay for our wedding in full (we had what is considered by many a very modest budget of 10k, but it was still a lot of money to us), but the half paid invoices turned into quarter paid invoices, and we were no longer able to make our ends meet… By September I think we had gone a month and a half with out pay. In October, Tyler’s car (a ’91 Mazda RX7 which he loved) was totaled when a guy making a left from Wilshire onto a side street smashed into him on his way home from a job that wasn’t paying him. In November, they officially asked their employees not to come in anymore until they could find more investors (they never did). Tyler was working on contract, so unemployment was not an option. Also, I should note that I had few hours of freelancing, and that in December CR hired a new creative director and I assume she hired some designers in-house, and I haven’t worked for them since. So, here we were, 6 months pregnant with the holidays upon us, with a mid 5-figure sum in unpaid invoices, and both unemployed. Awesome. And although we got married and found out we were expecting in 2009, we started 2010 hoping it would be much better than the last.

2010 was better than 2009, but it certainly had a slow start and a mediocre finish. Tyler managed to get a little work here and there, but he was essentially unemployed. In the meantime, we started to wonder about where we were going to live. We had not been paid in 4 months, we had spent all our savings and started to use credit cards so we could eat. I actually lost weight, and I distinctly remember a few weeks where I was hungry all the time but we had little food. My individual health insurance didn’t cover squat (a 5k deductible that starts over at January, and immediately doubles when a baby is born) and we were worrying about how we were going to pay our midwives. My nesting instincts were kicking in and I had didn’t even know if I should start packing boxes to move in with my parents or picking paint colors! We got the news in late Feb. that Tyler would start his new job on March 1, (not to mention a job he was really looking forward to!) and we gave a huge sigh of relief. We even managed to get our rent lowered, since rent in our area, including our complex had been lowered. Things would certainly continue to be tight, and we had almost 10 months of not being paid to recover from (almost 6 months of unpaid work… ugh), but at least we had some steadiness, something to rely on. We were also still expecting to work out something with Tyler’s old employer and get his invoices paid (and idea we clinched to for far too long). And then we had taxes… the vast majority of our work in 2009 was contract, which meant we were responsible for all of our taxes; despite the huge losses we had, we still obviously had to pay taxes, and it amounted to a 5 figure sum we couldn’t pay up front. So that turned into a large monthly bill… Tyler filed our taxes on the last day possible, which was also the day I went into labor! Our planned home birth turned into a transfer to the hospital after 36 hours of pre-labor (I’m sorry, but 90 second contractions every ten minutes should be considered labor), 8 hours of labor, and 5 hours of pushing. Her head was tilted, and we needed a vacuum extraction to get her out, pitocin to increase the strength of my contractions (I was a little tired…), and an epidural to relax my pelvis so we could move her head (I WILL write her birth story one day…). I was okay with the way the birth went, but it definitely affected our finances because we had to pay both the hospital and the midwives out of pocket because my shitty insurance has the aforementioned ridiculously high deductible. I think we ended up paying somewhere between 7-9k. I don’t know the exact total, it made me mad and I’ve moved on…  Anyway, things were slow and steady, but we definitely felt a little deflated with our new bills. Luckily, Laelia was a pretty easy baby, and we had no real problems, and whatever stir-craziness I was feeling from being home with a baby all day with no car eventually found their way to this blog here…
In December 2010, we were rear-ended at a stop light, and it totalled my beloved 2005 Scion X-B. I bought the car when I was still working at THQ, after years of bad luck with cars. My first car was a 1972 Ford Maverick that I shared with my brother. It had no windshield wipers, no horn, the passenger seat was being held up by a 2×4 and the the primer and vinyl was pealing off the body and the interior… My second car was my Aunt’s old ’91 Dodge Shadow which I LOVED—but it was totaled while parked at said Aunt’s house on Thanksgiving in 2001, a week before my grandfather died, and I was hit by a car, and I couldn’t get my student loans to come in and I … was a wreck. The other “worst” time in my life. Then I bought a ’91 Ford Taurus, which had a loose engine bolt so the engine would jump about a foot out of the engine mount every time I gave it gas. People thought I had hydraulics… The breaks literally went out when I was on the 101, and I had to get off the freeway at Highland and try my hardest to navigate one of the busiest exits with out getting in an accident. I managed to get to a gas station and stop my car with a little thud against a brick wall. The best part of this story was a guy dressed as superman (probably from Mann’s Chinese Theater) turned the corner and asked if I needed help! My next car was my sister’s ’96 ford Probe, which I was super excited about! But this car didn’t last long either. My sister had apparently never changed the oil (“I put new oil in!!”) and the engine exploded (also) on the 101, a mere month and a half after I had taken it. It was back to the Ford Taurus. Clearly, the universe didn’t want people to give me their old cars. So when I bought my car in 2005, I loved it so much. I saved up money for the down payment. I drove it off the lot with ONE mile on it. It gave me a sense of freedom that I’m sure surpassed what all the little rich kids who get brand new cars when they turn 16 feel. This made me feel like I could go to the gym with out having to hope I got there and hope I got back. It was with me on my hours long LA freeway commutes to work and back. And, I paid it off. It was mine. I got the letter of ownership the day I had to sign it over to the insurance company. I cried. The moment I had owned the first thing in my life I had to hand it over. 2010 ended on a sour note for us.

So that brings us to 2011. 2011 was definitely better! Yay! We decided to put a lot of things behind us, and restructure our future plans. We had let go of our idea of owning a house any time soon, but we also had to let go of the idea of even renting one; we also had to let go of the idea of ever getting our outstanding invoices paid. We pursed it with lawyers, and despite contracts and invoices his ex-employers essentially came back with “prove we owe money”. We could sue, but he could file for bankruptcy and we’d be out the court fees. So, I’m not officially saying we’ve given up, but we just have to move on like we’ll never see that money, which really helps us manage our debt. The worst part about saying we are in debt is that the amount we owe is less than half of what we are owed, which is infuriating. Mostly though, we had a lot more good things happening in our lives. I decided last January that I would give myself 6 months to find more freelance work and maybe start on some of my own projects, and if things didn’t pan out, I would start looking for a job in June. I put up my portfolio and I got 3 big projects by the end of January! I also started blogging regularly at that point. A year later, I have a little following, a little notoriety, and I have made friends! I really love blogging way more than I expected. I mean, I expected I would really enjoy it, but I could see myself making a living this way… Tyler got a new job which he’s really enjoying, and they just moved down the street! DOWN THE STREET! In LA! This makes up for his old commute from Simi Valley to Santa Monica and my old commute from Thousand Oaks to Downtown! It takes him less time to walk there (11 minutes) than it does to drive… The job also comes with enough money to get us out of debt and hopefully into a house in the next 3 years, according to our new fancy budget I worked out. We also finally paid off our taxes last month! Yay! So, we have decided to stay in our apartment another 3 years, to take advantage of this great commute, and just because its nice to know where we are going to be. We’ll probably be squeezing another child in here, but I accept you, challenge! I probably could talk a lot more about 2011, but I’m tired of writing on a holiday…

Looking back, I can tell you that I am SO GRATEFUL that our problems are mostly financial, and that we have our good health. It is something I don’t forget to be grateful for everyday, especially when I start to think, “what if one of us gets sick!?” (although financial troubles and crappy insurance sure can compound health issues…). We learned our lesson about contract work and letting employers take advantage of us! I’m also grateful for our friends and family who have been willing to help us where they can… I’m grateful we’ve kept a positive attitude about things, and just tried to enjoy every day…. We are feeling really positive about 2012. I really hope I get to move forward with all the ideas I have, and that Tyler gets to finish a few of his own side projects! I hope everyone has a great year.

Jesyka, Tyler and Laelia.

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3 Responses to Happy 2012! Reflections on years past…

  1. Gorgeous photos! Happy New Year!

  2. Emily says:

    Thanks for sharing this story! I’ve been meaning to read this for a while now and every time I sit down, I’m somehow interrupted and can’t get through the entire thing. I’m so glad 2012 is looking up for you and you’re family. Everyone has hard times and I think it just makes us appreciate the good that much more. Wishing you guys all the best this year, you do amazing work so it will be exciting to see how things progress! :)

  3. […] and the math told us that we would have enough for a down payment by May 2010. And, obviously, sh*t happened. So, while we refuse to let that bring us down, I do not feel inclined to sit in a house with […]

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Welcome to Visual Vocabularie! My name is Jesyka, and I am a designer, artist, mom to Laelia and Luca, wife to software engineer and UX designer Tyler, coffee lover, and all around enthused person. This is my blog; here I share my personal projects, whether it's a furniture makeover, a new painting, a birthday party, an invitation I designed, or a favorite outfit for my little. You’ll also catch a glimpse into our family life in Los Angeles.

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