Today

I just read the blog I wrote the day after the election last November.  It is awful and depressing and I feel worse today than I did then.  The shock has worn off, no longer dully protecting me from this deep and abiding grief that I cannot seem to overcome.  I am doing something I always wanted to do. I am a snowbird. I am in Florida for three months, where I rented an adorable little cottage that reminds me of nothing so much as our place in Maine.  It could be bigger and fancier, but it is not.  It’s small.  Cozy.  Beautifully located.  Minimal. The little porch stretches across the front, screens open on all three sides.  Walking distance from the beach and from the most quaint little downtown you will see anywhere.  And I am miserable.  I thought it might be better here but it is not.  There is not a lot to distract from what is happening to my country.  At least at home in Connecticut, I worked like a maniac. Worked and drove and slept and worked and drove and slept.  I didn’t have the time to fret and stew and wait for our fate to come crashing down upon our heads.  I look at the internet and follow the hearings on C-Span and watch my country collapse.  All my fears come true.  One after another.  I knew the day after the election I did not want to come here but I had made a good-size deposit and foolish me, I thought I might get better.  R&R.  I am a social creature and I love seeing people and laughing and socializing but I have a bit of the hermit in me as well.  I was looking forward to being by myself with my dog and my books, and seeing people when I wanted to.  I have been here since January 1 and I have not gone to the beach that is five blocks away, not one time.  I have gone there when it was cool and sat at a table and looked at the water.  A couple of times.  It was beautiful and noisy and peaceful.  But I have not thrown my book and a beach chair and my minty iced tea in the car and driven to the water.  And I feel bad about this.  I feel bad that I have become so weakened that I am giving my power to a crazy person and bunch of crazy sycophants, and a bunch of plain evil people.  And the longer this goes on, the more I blame people who voted for him.  I thought this might ebb but it has increased.  Anyone who cast a vote for this horrible little troll is a horrible little troll.  I don’t believe I will ever forgive any of them.  Unfortunately, they are taking me down with them.  Day by day, I see the evidence mount, and I realize how naïve I was before November 8.  I truly believed in my heart that people would do the right thing.  And they did not.

 

Sometimes, I feel little blips of hope.  I feel like I can do something and make a difference and stop this madness.  But I cannot.  Because unlike other elected officials, this insane narcissist does not give a fiddler’s fuck what one single one of us thinks, you know – except apparently Meryl Streep.  He seems to have been overly concerned with her.  I try and I try and I try and I can come out of this for short periods.  I have friends who have seen me laugh and joke.  I have beachy plans next week with a good friend and the week after with my nephew.  And I know I will feel good and be happy then.  And after that, I fear I will be exactly like I am today.

 

Someone said to me today, “I wonder sometimes if I am not seeing things as clearly as you do.”  And I am positive that is it.  I see this.  It is coming like the proverbial freight train.  I can’t stop it.  I am helpless in the path.

 

This is my life now.

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My heart

I am writing.  Sometimes it helps.  I am pushing my sorrow through my fingers and onto this virtual page.

When I was 11 years old in 1967, someone tried to kill me with a knife.  Some of my friends know this, some do not.  I was in the hospital for six days. I lived.

Two days before my 35th birthday in 1990, after trying to conceive for more than seven years, I thought I might die from the ectopic pregnancy that took my only baby.  I did not.

When I was 40, I was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the neck – most likely my right tonsil.  I had a total of five surgeries, including a double tonsillectomy and a radical neck dissection on the same day, followed by thirty days of radiation.  Half of the people who had this cancer were dead in five years.  I was not.

Three and one-half years ago, I lie on the floor and wrapped my arms around a dog that I loved above just about all people and whispered into his precious ear while he left me.  My heart went with him for a long time.  But I got it back.

A little more than two years ago, I lost one of my best friends to suicide.  There. Are. No. Words.

And there is more; I’m just skimming off the top for comparison to tell you what happened yesterday is just as bad to me as all of those heartbreaking events.  My country betrayed me.  My social media posts during the last week said over and over again I believed the citizens of my country would do the right thing.   And I did believe it.  But that is over for me now, and it will stay over.  I will not trust again.  Almost half of the people in the United States voted for racism and against Blacks, Muslims, Jews, and Mexicans – anyone who is not white and male.  They gave the nod to misogyny.  They agreed it was OK to mock the handicapped.  They decided sexual assault and groping were not a problem, in fact a joke.  Racketeering – that’s OK too. They condemned the entire LGBT community.  They voted against the less fortunate.  They decided it was OK if poor people didn’t have insurance and were unable to get treatment if they were ill.  Life-and-death ill.  My country elected the most evil, ignorant, narcissistic, racist, deplorable public figure who has ever presented himself to us.

Martin Niemöller, a prominent pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps, wrote several versions of this poem – this is one of the best known.

“When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.

When they came for me.”

This reflects what I see in our future.

So we woke up this morning to the reality of fear, if we slept at all last night.  I did not.  I have friends with children, indeed some have adopted minority children.  One child’s best friend is Muslim.  These parents, and many more, are struggling with what to tell their babies.  I cannot imagine.  I am an adult and I am terrified, truly bone-deep afraid.  I wonder if today I feel like black people feel, have always felt, and I feel shame for not realizing perhaps this is true.  I have always thought I was strong enough to protect those who needed protection.  I don’t feel like that today.  I am defeated.  But I am leaving on the back of my van, a small square Hillary forward arrow.  I will leave it there as a sign for people who may need help.  Like the ladies in the depression on whose fence post a hobo might draw a cat to show a kind woman lived there.  My father tells me his family wasn’t hungry during the depression. They were poor but they had a large, working farm – so they had food.  His mother kept a pot of soup going and fed anyone who was hungry.  Perhaps there was a cat drawn in front of her door.  The fish symbol thrived so people could find other Christians.  I’m keeping my H so people can find me.  I am terrified but I pledge to protect those who are less fortunate than I, those who fall into one of the compromised categories.  And there are many.  I promise I will do my best.  And to those who are not as fortunate as I have been, I will not forsake you.  I will not.  I will work to recover my true self and I will be brave again.  What has happened here is more important than one individual person and I will stand up and fight for you with every breath I have.  Soon.  I swear.  I can do no more.

My heart is broken.

 

Good-bye

I woke up from a sound sleep. I had to come downstairs and start writing. I am haunted by the death of another dream.

The time has come and my parents are in the process of selling their summer home. The plan was that I would take it over when they were ready to let go but here is where the death of this particular dream comes in. I used to make enough money but this is no longer true. My life took a different path. And don’t get me wrong, I have made adjustments. I am not unhappy.

But this Maine thing is killing me a piece of me. There is something about this place, this little rustic, quaint, crowded, hole-in-the-wall camp – this is what they call cottages in Maine – that makes me feel like losing it will pull my guts out through my mouth and I will feel it start in the bottom of my feet. I am sick in my heart and my stomach and my head.

I have known this was coming for a while. I do not talk about it. I cannot stand it.

I want to retire and be there every day that I can. Every day that I can keep myself warm with wood and the pipes won’t freeze. I want to sit in my spot and read my book with my dog and my diet coke and a little bowl of those chubby pretzels with peanut butter centers. I want to set my book down and look up at the lake – sometimes smooth, sometimes choppy, sometimes sparkly like diamonds. I want to wave at whatever friend is going by in their boat. I want to cook on the little gas stove with the old black, well-seasoned cast iron pans. I want to wash dishes in the sink, one by one. I want to take a nap on the old iron day bed on the porch, the bed my grandparents slept on when they got married in 1935. I want to go to sleep in my little back bedroom with the roof right above my head and the rain pouring down so hard that the pounding puts me into a drooling trance. I want to walk to the end of the dock in the dark and look up and see every star in the sky. Every single one of them. You can do that there. I want to build a fire outside in the hole my nephew dug and surrounded with rocks. I want to float on hot summer days. I want to take the boat out to a deep spot and drop the anchor and do cannonballs and hoot and holler and laugh. I want to play cards on the front porch.

There is something about this place that gives me strength and recharges the peaceful center of my being. I feel it flowing through the middle of me when I am there. Gets me ready for whatever comes next. It is the peaceful spot in my head. When something stressful happens in my everyday life, I close my eyes and picture myself there. Looking at the water. Breathing. Slow, cool, deep, clean breaths.

So. My parents have a buyer. This will all be over by the end of August. When I think of talking out loud about it, I feel my throat tighten and restrict. I feel despair. It is an unfamiliar feeling for me but that is what it is.

I am driving to Maine in a couple of days. Other family members are coming up this week. The last hurrah. I am so looking forward to this. I am sick about this.

I have not written a blog for a long time. And here it is. Sad. No pictures. Just my queasy self typing away when I should be sleeping.

I will be in Maine on Thursday night. I will try to write another blog next week. One that is happy and full of good memories – both old ones and the ones we will make. That last ones. I will be there until July 12. Then I will leave and drive home.

This is me today

This morning I walked into a store to buy a coffee.  I smelled you.  I looked everywhere but you were not there.  14 years and it hit me like a punch in the gut.  I saw a man in a car today.  I thought it was you.  It was not.  I think I’m going to see you soon.  I feel it.  And it doesn’t really matter.  I’m OK.  You’re not OK.  My version of the book.

I'm_OK-_You're_OK

NOT.

I am moving soon.  It is a difficult thing to do.  The packing and selling and organizing.  Selling some of the stuff in my parents’ house so I can get my stuff out of here and in there.  Log jam!  Sometimes I feel overwhelmed.  And other times I feel like – I’ve got this.  I’m a frigging production manager.

moving

My father had his shoulder replaced last week.  He looked so awful afterward in the hospital, he scared me.  And I don’t scare easily.  He will be 81 on March 30.  He has been in rehab since Friday.  He is himself again.  If he wasn’t sitting around in jammies and wearing a sling, you’d never know.  Yay!

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I have a new job.  Driving an escort car for oversize loads.  I love love love love love it.  If I have my way, I will never ever sit in an office again.  Unless it is volunteer work of some kind.

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The other day I was escorting a guy whose handle was Big Daddy.  I kid you not.  But I did kid him about it; oh yes I did.  So we’re coming over 691 and I said, “Big Daddy.  See that tower up there?”  He said yes.  I said, “When I was in high school, I used to go up there with my friends and smoke the wacky.”  He laughed and said, “Me too.”  Turns out, Big Daddy went to high school in Connecticut, as did I.  We graduated in the same year.  I met Big Daddy in person at the end of the run.  He looked like my ex.  A little taller and his Buddha was a little smaller.  He had a shaved head complete with baseball cap, bright blue eyes and the same hands.  I said, “Big Daddy.  You look like my ex.  Hey!  You could be my next ex.”  He rolled his eyes.  I get a lot of that.

meriden tower 2

I have this dog Dante.  He is some kind of freaky critter.  He is not my Mikey.  This doesn’t mean I don’t love him.  Maybe I feel about Dante how mothers feel about their kids.  You love them all but you love them different?  First I had Dave and he was my baby.  No doubt about it.  Then I had Mike and he was my BFF.  I loved him with my heart.  I still do.  We got each other.  Now I have Dante.  A rescue.  I had the others from puppy stage.  Dante has issues.  He is needy.  He cries and barks.  But he is sweet.  He stares at me all the time.  And he loves me.  And he is playful.  He worries.  I can tell.  He paws at me if I don’t touch him enough, which for him is most of the time.  He throws himself at me.  He tries to sit or lie on my lap.  He weighs 55 pounds.  He hogs the bed.  I have to fight for space.  But I’m a dog person/poodle mama.  I love his screwed-up little self.  But I think I might miss Mike every day for the rest of my life.

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Never heard of Pharrell Williams till the song “Happy” came out.  I freaking love it.  I wish I had written it.  But I never would have worn shorts to the Academy Awards.

Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do

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Today, I am happy too.

happy day

A New Chapter

On February 7, 2014, I celebrated an anniversary.  On that day, I had not had a full-time job for two years.

holy cow

Those who know me already know this about me – I like not working every day.  I don’t like thinking about from where my next dollar will come, but I no longer place any value on myself in reference to my work status.  I used to.  After I was fired from Mintz & Hoke in 2003, I learned not to.  I figured if they could fire me after all I had done while working there, I needed to rethink who I was.  There is a party game.  It goes like this.  What are you?  Name three things.  The most true thing first.  For years and years, I was

1.  A production manager

2.  A wife

3.  A friend

production managerWife-t-shirt friend1

Two and three varied, but for 20 years, I was a production manager first and always.  A cruel lesson I had to learn, but like many tough experiences in life – I am so much better for it.  Cancer – better for it.  Battered woman – better for it.  Infertile – better for it.  All true.

Now this sound like it could be a depressing blog but I tell you, it is not and will not end up that way.

smile face

I am selling my condo that I have owned for the last 10 years.  I can no longer afford to live here.  It is my favorite place I have ever lived.   I suppose I could find two lousy-paying full-time jobs but I don’t want to.  And lucky for me, I have another option.  I am moving in with my parents. (Plus a huge shout-out to the Affordable Care Act AKA Obamacare.)

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And this is what this blog is really about.  Me, moving back to my childhood home.

home

You read about this all the time.  You are reading about this now.  We are living in a strange world.  This economy is in an uproar.  I always did the right thing.  I saved money.  I supported myself.  I owned my own home.  Three times I bought a home.  I started at the bottom and made my way up to a spot where I could do what I wanted.  Within reason.  I remember buying my first house in 1985 and when we came out of the closing, we had about $100 left.  But we made a comeback.  We were careful and frugal.  And later on we, and then I, went on nice vacations.  I drove a relatively new car.  I picked up the tab.  If I wanted something new, I bought it.  New Nikes.  A prime rib to feed my friends at dinner.  Sushi once a week.  A mani/pedi.  A book.  Flowers for the dining room table.  A pizza delivered.  A massage.  Just regular stuff.  Nothing too extravagant.  What everyone wants to make life nice.  I don’t buy any of these things now.

nike sushimani

When I was a kid, I moved to Florida.  It was 1977.  I answered an ad for a job with “Kelly Girls” to work at a printer as a secretary/receptionist.  Voila!  The rest is history – I went into printing – remember drinks around the table – what are you – I am a production manager.  I was made for that job.  I had never heard of a production manager when I was growing up and all at once, I was one.  And I was good at it.  But print is dying a slow and painful death.  It won’t die all the way.  It will reincarnate as a smaller type of business.  PDF and the internet took care of that.  And I’m OK with progress.  I love the internet.  I was a library freak when I was a kid and I’m an internet freak now.  I love looking stuff up.  I used to keep a dictionary by my bed.  I read in bed.  Every night.  I liked to open an encyclopedia to any page and read about what I landed on.  Encyclopedias are gone.  Now we have Wikipedia.  And I like Wikipedia too.  And Google.

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So I was laid off two years ago and I looked for a job.  But I had been working in printing since 1977.  This is 2014.  I am 58 years old.  It is hard enough to get a job at my age, but I’m a one-trick pony to employers.  I know what I am.  I know I am not a one-trick pony.  I’m smart and funny and patient and passionate and flexible and fast and a very good student.  But I have given up on convincing anyone new of that.  And I no longer worry about it.

I have done some volunteer work at the daycare at the Y.  That led to a job as a sub Pre-K teacher.  I helped a friend with an older relative.  That led to respite care.  And work through Care.com.  I’ve done some editing for a university alumni magazine.  Now I’m driving escort cars.  With the oversize load sign on top?  And the flashing lights?  And a CB radio and orange flags?  And I have to say, I love it.  And it pays quite well.  Not much going on in the winter but it’s good.  No politics.  No crap.  No fighting.  And if there is, I pay no attention.  I go where they tell me.  I do what they tell me.  Then I go home.  I am going to try to support myself for a long time doing this.  My “friends” say I am a paid escort.  I love them too.

pre-koversize loadcb

So back to moving.  I like my parents.  They like me.  Dare I say, it might be love?

C&V

At the end of last summer and early fall, I let a friend stay in my condo.  I spent most of that time with my parents, in both Maine and Connecticut.  I had been considering moving in with them and in the back of my mind, I was afraid we might drive each other nuts and I wanted to test the waters.  And you know what?  I dove right in and the water was fine.  I kept asking my mother, “Am I driving you nuts?”  And she kept saying, “No.  Are we driving you nuts?”  And the answer was no from my end too.  When I finally came back to my condo, my mother called me and said, “Come back.  I don’t want to do my own laundry.”

maine laundry

Another thing to know about me.  In addition to being Self-Appointed Hair Critic to the World, I am the Queen of Laundry.  Believe it.  I separate.  I do the hot, warm, cold loads.  Every single time.  I use bleach as needed.  Every single time.  Yes.  No short cuts.  I’m a good production manager.  Probably why I was able to stay in my condo for two years without a real job.  I sold my Wii, my grandmothers crocks and kitchen antiques, my china and crystal, my jewelry, my jewelry armoire, designer clothes, and many more things that I cannot recall right now.  And I will sell lots more before I am through.  Because I am moving.

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I am heading toward a new chapter in my life.  I will live with my parents.  It will be good for me.  It will be good for them.  I won’t have to work ever again in a full-time job about which I do not care. I will do for them the things that become more difficult as they age.  And they will make my life easier.  We will take turns cooking.  My father and I want a big garden.  I love yard work.  I will do dishes and laundry.  I will run up and down the stairs.  I can watch their dog if they want to go somewhere and they can watch Dante for me.  I will drive my escort vehicles.  I will be busy in the nice seasons and slow in the winter.

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I will enter a new phase of my life.  I will peel down another layer and explore the person who is there – someone different yet the same in many ways.   As I have done many times before.  I look forward to it.  I embrace it.  My life is good.  It was good and will continue to be.

I am at a party. I am playing the game.  I am

1.  A daughter

2.  A dog mother

3.  A friend

daughters dante friend

I another few years, I may be someone else.

But for now – with my family, my friends and my dog, I’m happy.

Happy