Tag Archive | government shutdown, shutdown stories, #shutdownstories, real life, Coast Guard, USCG


It’s hard to explain how the recent government shutdown impacted our family. It happened suddenly. In the few days leading up to it, it looked like a deal had been made, and by the King of the Deal himself.

Christmas is a time when we spend money. I love it. A more disciplined person, or wealthy person, might save up for Christmas, but we do the opposite. We buy with credit cards and then pay it back over the next few months. We’d planned to take the kids skiing for their present this year, and so we went. Shutdown or not. We all had cabin fever.

Our oldest was visiting home after her first semester of college, and we were anxious to see her, and not be bogged down with worry.

As the shutdown dragged on and the tone deaf statements coming from the wealthy cabinet members of the current administration dripped out, I started to feel angry. Angry because the timing was bad for our family with multiple tuition bills due, and angry because we were being subjected to repeated attacks by the government that we have chosen to serve. The articles I read about “entitled government workers” and how they make so much more money than the average other worker do not tell the whole story. The federal government workforce is represented by highly skilled engineers, atmospheric scientists, lawyers, and economists. My husband is one of only two lawyer/pilots in the Coast Guard and we had the student loans to prove it! If you compare those jobs to the private sector, the federal workers are paid less. This is a fact.

Anyone running a business knows the value of keeping your employees, especially those that are highly skilled. Federal government employees have been repeatedly demoralized and used as pawns. I have witnessed this over the last twenty years. It is a fun game to cancel out the raises of the federal workforce. It happens almost every year.

This does not even address the Coast Guard. I remember when I was a young Coast Guard officer’s wife. I remember going to the grocery store with my toddler in tow, not sure how I was going to pay for it. I got to the checkout that day, and was told I had won my groceries for free. I was astonished and went home with the organic milk I could not afford plus $100 in free groceries. That summer, I won my groceries at Harris Teeter twice. I still shop there in gratitude.

Every month the mortgage ate up the whole first paycheck. The paycheck that came in the middle of the month was for everything else. I generally tried to avoid the commissary on pay day because the line stretched passed the milk. It was so crowded. That second paycheck paid utilities, food, gas and diapers. My mom paid our student loans. We could not afford to miss even one paycheck.

This time was different for us because I was working. The backpay we will get will help. But the contractors will not get backpay. The restaurants and lost business revenue will not be paid. The mental anguish and hardship will not be erased. And we will dig out again, probably just in time for Christmas.

©Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise

Shutdown 101

I am trying to focus on the positive. For instance: Why yes I AM the sole breadwinner of the house! Doesn’t that give me a sense of accomplishment? Well, no, since we would all starve if that was normally the case.

How does one cope with a government shutdown when one’s spouse works for the government? Well, assuming he is not too exhausted from reading the classifieds, I have come up with a way to keep him busy…The Old Honey-Do List!

As we are approaching the fourth day of an unexpected furlough, and since we can’t cry in front of the kids on a regular basis, I am thinking up things to keep us busy.

Random Rocks = Chaos.

Random Rocks = Chaos.

Like MOVING ROCKS. This is a free, stress-relieving activity that is actually quite satisfying. Think Yoga but with more bulging muscles. And it looks awesome. (The rocks, not the muscles.)

We relocated all of the scattered flagstones around the driveway and imposed order on our surroundings by building a path with them. It looks much better and did I mention this was cheaper than going to the gym?

Aaaaah order.

Aaaaah order. 

We are working on the yard, making regular trips to the free mulch pile, and sprucing things up. However, we may have to be furloughed for a year to finish our yard, otherwise known as “The Wild Kingdom.” But it’s a start.

Flagstone path.

Flagstone path.

The Honey-Do List is as long as my arm and I am truly excited to dedicate some hefty hubby resources to getting things done around here. He is excited to have anything to keep his mind off of the fact that he is not working and not getting paid.

Goldenrod from the garden.

Goldenrod from the garden.

I added some flowers to the table, mess and all, to bring in some cheer and set a pot of lentils on the stove. If you need a cheap and incredibly tasty meal for your family, then click here for the best lentil recipe ever. If you are not affected by the government shutdown, thank your lucky stars and call your congressman anyway. And give the lentils a try; yes they are that good.

© copyright 2013 Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise.