Monday, October 20, 2008

Tackling Things You Hate

One of the hard things about being divorced is tackling problems that were always something that were part of the spouse's expertise. It isn't really that the job itself is that hard or complicated (if my ex can do something, I can do it) but it is the sheer lack of knowledge that makes it daunting. Not knowing how to do something or having any sort of experience with it makes me freeze up sometimes. Occasionally I just feel so frustrated because I don't know what to do - and on top of that it makes me mad because it brings up thoughts of my divorce, something I don't like to spend any time thinking about. Usually it is just a matter of accepting that if something is going to get done, I need to do it - and almost inevitably the job is far, far easier than I would have guessed.

Here's an easy example - I wanted to change the furnace filter. I had no idea when the last time it was changed and wanted to get on a regular fall-winter schedule for it. I had a new one downstairs, but I had never dealt with the furnace before. It just hadn't been my job - and remember, before this I lived in apartments where it was also not my job. So, I put it off and put it off. I knew it couldn't be hard, but I just didn't know where to start. Then one day a friend of mine was coming over later, and I thought "Okay, I will check it out myself. If I can't get it, I will ask for help." So I went down there and looked.... and realized that changing the filter was about as hard as taking a book off a shelf and putting another one in its place. All that procrastination - for nothing!

Here's another one: in July I received a letter from the City Offices that there was a problem with the deed on my home. When my ex and I were officially divorced, he signed a quit claim deed, assigning all the property over to me. When it was filed, it kicked up an ongoing problem we had been having since shortly after we bought the house. To be perfectly honest I don't understand the problem at all, every time someone tries to explain it to me they start using legal jargon and lose me. From what I can gather there is a "cloudy title" and the property descriptions don't match. My ex had been the one dealing with this while we were still married. I know it came up once or twice and he thought he had it handled - apparently not.

I got a very official looking letter, once again containing a lot of jargon I am unfamiliar with, letting me know I had 30 days to do... something. Again, what I was supposed to do wasn't exactly clear. So, I cut through the chase and just called them. I talked to an incredibly helpful woman who began to work with me, but then wisely decided to put me through to the actual person in her office working on this issue.That person's name was Amy. Small, small world, after she and I started talking it turned out that Amy had been formerly employed at the place I work and we've known each other for years. We aren't friends or anything, but we certainly enjoyed working together. Amy turned out to be a big help and she directed to me to work with my Title company to get this fixed... my Title company that just happened to be out of business.

Fortunately, they were bought out and the new company had the old records. For the last four months I have been working with them to try to get this fixed. My contact there has been helpful and cheerful, but I am "low man" on her priority list. I have a feeling I was forgotten about and filed to the bottom of the to-do list over and over again. I persevered, however. One of the things that really helped me was the fact I am now using* Every few days I would see a note on my to-do list to call and follow up. Eventually she must have gotten sick of my calls and voice mails and decided to move me to the top of her list. (Just as well, I had no intentions of giving up.)

She called me on Friday, said she spoke with Amy and the quickest and easiest way to deal with the problem would be if she had the original warranty deed. I faxed her a copy this morning to verify I had the right document, then put it in the mail today. Hopefully I can get this straightened out so it doesn't happen again - say when I go to sell the house.

Again, this wasn't hard to do. It had much more to do with being persistent and not giving up. I've been like a bulldog with this. I still don't know why the problem exists, but I have the names and numbers of the people that do and I plan on working with them until this whole thing is set right.

For me, the best way to handle these problems that come up is to give myself a small starting to-do and stick with it. I try not to do the whole thing at once, no "Fix the problem with your title" to-dos, that is far too intimidating! Instead I try to break it into smaller pieces - just go look at the furnace, make one call to the City - that kind of thing. Then I don't let up. I keep assigning myself small manageable tasks until the thing is completed. Just because I sent off the deed to the Title company, I am not done yet. I have a to-do set for next week to make sure it was received and get an estimated time for a solution.

The good thing about all of this is that I am constantly learning. Never again will changing the filter be an issue. If I have to call the City again, I know where to call. Each step that I do makes me a little more wise and little stronger. I'm a better person for it.

(Although I still wish someone else would snow blow the driveway this winter!!)

Beautiful photo by: Madasor

*This is not a sponsored post. I just like the website.


louise said...

doesn't it make a difference once you get a helpful person!
Your post reminded me of two friends of mine (both divorced) years ago who were talking about doing home repairs, one said "I need a man!!" the other replied, "no, you need a hammer".

Dawn said...

HAHAHAHHAAAA!! I love that!! I should post "You just need a hammer" on my workbench downstairs!

Lindsay said...

Though I haven't been through a divorce, I'm a gal on my own, so I can definitely sympathize. Condo living isn't too bad, but when you've got a house, and you're suddenly responsible for all the exterior and interior maintenance that you didn't grow up learning about, it can be daunting!

I had a toilet issue just a couple weeks ago, and thank god for the Internet, lol. (Ever notice how these things always happen after hours when you can't just run to Home Depot for help?)

I'm sure you'll do great on your own though. And the cool thing about learning new self-sufficiency is that you really feel like you've accomplished something when you get it taken care of!

Dawn said...

Lindsay - My mom is very encouraging when it comes to condos. I think that is what she would like to see me in when all this dust settles.

I've had toilet issues too! I spent 9 hours working on one not that long ago - the good news is, when my other one broke I fixed it in less than 10 minutes! And you are right, when all was done I felt like a rock star.

But someone really should do a thesis on why stuff always breaks when Home Depot is closed!

laura @ no more spending said...

I'm the total opposite, if we ever get divorced then I worry that my husband would struggle!? To say he can't even work a screwdriver would be an

I'm glad you got some help when you needed it dawn :)

Dawn said...

Laura - thanks so much! I am glad I have good friends who can help too.

Sean said...

FYI, be sure to write the date on the filter.

Dawn said...

Great tip Sean! Thanks!!