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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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.)

condocondo1

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.

librarycomputerencyclopedia

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.

old country roseswaterford j3

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.

breadgardenmushrooms

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

More Haiku

Haiku 又又

I have the best friends
I cannot thank them enough
For all their support

My dog is barking
I would like to whack him one
But I won’t do it

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Chocolate is good
Makes me happy and fat too
Should stop eating it

Image

Thanksgiving was here
Girly week at my condo
We did have a blast

ImageImage

It’s been forty years
Since high school graduation
But I think I’m young

Image

No real job two years
Worried about my future
But I’m still happy

I love my condo
My favorite place to live
More than my big house

Image

Did not ever think
This is where I would be now
But I’ve adjusted

Supper Club was born
At a parent’s funeral
You can do it too

ImageSupper3

ImageImage

Fix a kitchen shelf?
I don’t care if he’s eighty
Daddy will do it

Image

I miss my dog Mike
His smell and his big brown eyes
Won’t forget him soon

Image

All of my new blogs
Will be about getting old
Arthritis not sex

My last haiku sucked
I look in the damn mirror
I am thirty-six

Now we are cooking
I’m bitching and complaining
Please keep reading – thanks

Want to be better
At keeping my house cleaner
I hate vacuuming

Writing this haiku
Trying to figure out life
Please put up with me

My original goal
Was to write two blogs a week
Two years in the past

Very cold outside
February is awful
Enough is enough

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Furnace is running
Money right up the chimney
I will block my ears

One day I will live
In Florida once again
It is sunny there

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Take a load off, Susie!

Take a load off, Susie

I watched a movie yesterday.  The name of it was Peace, Love and Misunderstanding.  And you all know how I like to weave books and movies and life together into a neat, beautiful and highlighted French braid.  So here I go again…

http://www.ifcfilms.com/films/peace-love-misunderstanding

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This movie is about Forgiveness, one of my favorite themes, and was criticized for its “cheery insistence that everything is just super”.  Well these critics were wrong.  P,L&M may have the slight lavender-scented odor (or in this case reefer stench) of chick flick but everything was not super.  The Jane Fonda character – “hippie” Grace – had a very positive attitude toward all things and her estranged daughter character – straight-laced Diane – played by Catherine Keener, did not.

I have two mottoes by which I try to live my life.

1.  Attitude is everything.

2.  Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke.

P,L&M also starred Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Jude – an American Javier Barden doppelganger.  Sexy.  Sexy.  Sexy.  I will be looking for every movie this guy is in.  People!  You can have all the young pretty boys.  Give me these men any day of the week.

Javier-Bardem
http://thats-all-folks.com/celebrity-lookalikes-jeffrey-dean-morgan-and-javier-bardem/

There is a scene between Diane and Jude that goes like this.

Jude:    Did you ever consider letting it all go?
Diane:    Letting what go?
Jude:    The fight.  Yes.  Let it go.  Like a balloon floating away.  It’s not a balloon, it’s a sandbag you need to let go to get off the ground.

Another scene they stand together at a mike, obviously she is thawing by now, and sing The Band’s “Take a Load Off, Annie”.  The load is anger/the fight, folks.  And the guts of this movie is the forgiveness that a happier Diane finally bestows upon her well-meaning, idealistic mother Grace.  Diane lets go of the fight, and also literally – the balloon,  which is sappy indeed.  I admit it.  But let’s not pan the whole movie for one hokey scene which I’m sure that Grace, if she were real, would have loved.  Ultimately, Diane learns that trying to have a good attitude and trying to live positively is better than the cloudy, uncertain existence she has been living for 45 years.

CatJeff

I wrote a blog last September called Forgiveness.  Which I took down the next day.  Most people responded very positively but since it upset someone very much, I took it down.

In this blog, I said among other things…

I want to be a better person.  I try to be a better person.  I think – Am I doing the right thing?  Have I considered this from all sides?  Was I just unkind?  Did I remember to say thank you.  I’ll call him now and say thank you just in case.  Is that person having a spectacularly awful day and it is splashing on me?  What can I do to make my life better/OK/good even though this nimrod is trying to wreck my day/life.  And maybe I am taking things too personally.  Maybe someone who appears to be trying to wreck your life is so absorbed in their own misery, they don’t even realize what a god-awful thing they are doing to you.

So forgiveness.  I think the lack of it on my part may be the top thing that keeps me from being the best I can be.

And then I referred to My favorite activity – blaming myself for everything.

I want to forgive.  I want to not be mad about stupid things people do.

Forgiveness.  Being a better person.  I believe I should be above it all.  But I am not.  

I think without these thoughts, and with forgiveness, I could be a much better person – maybe closer to the good person I want to be.  And I’m not sure what to do about it.  Except to carry on.  And try.  But am I too hard on myself?  Am I too self-absorbed?  Do other people think like this?  Do other people wish they could forgive?  

And don’t get me wrong.  I’m a generally happy person with a pretty good life.  But I want to be better.  I want to be happy and sated, like a big fat smiling Buddha.  Peaceful.  There’s a Joni Mitchell song – The Same Situation and a line – Caught in my struggle for higher achievement.  This line describes my 50’s.  My sixth decade.  My struggle for higher achievement.  I want to be better .  I want to be more.  And I’m trying.

f

Writing the original Forgiveness blog helped me a great deal.  I was laid off all last summer and didn’t post a single essay to WordPress from June 12 to September 3 because Forgiveness was bubbling inside me and blocking me.  So here I am taking a small run at it again.  I have spent more time thinking about forgiveness.  I always do.  And I’m doing better.  I have been accused of being incredibly naïve and I think that is somewhat correct.  I always expect the best from people.  I always think people are honest and true.  And that is not true.  But we must consider that when people close to us hurt us badly, they may not realize the deep gash they are making in our hearts.

You see, I continue to insist cheerily that everything is just super.  It helps.  Attitude is everything.

I’m out here, still trying to take the load off.

http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/thebigchill/theweight.htm

gandhi

Soup

Several of my friends have suggested I should write about cooking.  And with that I mind, I am going to write about soup.

I love soups and stews.  I like eating them, making them – I love chopping.  I have a nice big heavy knife that I keep reasonably sharp and I could chop all day.  When I was working and I had a bad day, I would think of something to make for dinner that required a lot of chopping and swing into Stop & Shop on the way home to buy it.  I’d walk in the door, change my clothes, don an apron, pour a nice big glass of wine and start chopping.  I found it relaxing and therapeutic.  I love chopping.  So I’ve said – twice.

Anyhow, soup is something that usually requires lots of chopping so here is my story.  Recently I have been wanting soups with beans.  I was at a friend’s house looking at a pile of cooking magazines she had saved.  And I came across a recipe for Ribollita.  The recipe is here.

FNM030111_075

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/slow-cooker-ribollita-recipe/index.html

And the first time I made it, I followed the recipe pretty closely.  But I have made soups in the slow-cooker several times since then following the same basic idea and they have come out nice and tasty.

Wikipedia tells us about Ribollita – link here also.  Seems to me that it is everything that is left in your fridge but we don’t always do that in this country so the recipe above is another way to do it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ribollita

But now I get to my point.  For less than bold cooks who worry about cooking without a recipe, you can do this.  And make your soup any way you want it to be.  The last time I made a bean soup, here is how I did it.  I have a very big oval slow-cooker.  I used one cup of dry white northern beans.  But you could use any dried bean you want.  I use about 7 or 8 cups of water per cup of dry beans.  You don’t have to pre-soak or cook the beans.  Just use enough water.  Then I went to the refrigerator and my vegetable basket.  I added to the slow-cooker most of a bunch of celery that I chopped.  Maybe 6 or 8 chopped carrots.  Coarse chop, not fine mincing – you are making a hearty stew.  I had half a box of mushrooms.  I cut those up.  I had some fresh parsley so I chopped and threw that in.  My mother had given me a baggie full of fresh brussel sprouts.  I washed them and cut off the bottoms and outer leaves, and then cut them in half the long way and put them in.  An onion.  A whole head of garlic.  A big hunk of cheddar cheese cubed.  And about a half pound of bacon that I diced up – raw, not cooked.  That was about it.  Put the cover on the slow-cooker and turn it on.  About 5 hours on high.  If you’re going to be at work all day, turn it on low.

But please be sure to turn it on.  One time in the relatively recent past, I set up my slow-cooker and plugged it in and went to work without turning it on.  Luckily someone was home that day and noticed that the lovely aroma usually created by a roast and vegetables in the crockpot was non-existent.  Not kidding.  He turned it on.  Thank goodness as company was coming for dinner.  But I digress.

So essentially what I ended up with was a slow-cooker about 2/3 of the way full and the amount of water just covered everything in it.

So you can make this same soup using any vegetables – broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, green beans, spinach – whatever you like.  I like tomatoes in my soup but not always all the juice.  One time when I made it, I drained a can of tomatoes and threw in the solid pieces right at the end.  That worked out well.  Any meat – bacon, pancetta, chunked up chicken, hamburger, sausage, diced pieces of boneless beef or pork.  Any dried beans you like.  Or any combination of beans – just use enough water.  You could substitute wine or chicken broth for some of the water.  Be careful if you use chicken broth.  One time I did and my soup was a little too salty.  And it is hard to get salt out.  You can add more at the table if you like but once it’s in, you’re pretty much stuck with it.

Here is a picture of my last soup using this method.  I am available to advise insecure cooks.  And would love to.  Make it your own!  Good Luck and let me know if you try it.

soup