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.

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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.

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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

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

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

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

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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

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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

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

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

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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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No Mike – Day 4

From the tap, I fill the Brita pitcher with water.  After it runs through, I pour it into both the Keurig and Mike’s bowl.

After I get out of the shower, I walk back into the bedroom and talk to Mike while I get dressed.

I pick up my coffee cup because if I forget and leave it next to my chair in the living room, Mike will be slurping in it in less than 5 seconds.

When I walk back from the dumpster, Mike barks at me out the door and I threaten to beat him with a stick.

I put a baby gate in the opening at the top of the stairs every night so Mike won’t wander and maybe hurt himself having a seizure.

I leave the slider open so Mike can go in and out 45 times a day without driving me crazy.

I put the small wastebasket in the bathroom under the sink because Mike eats yucky Kleenex.

If Mike doesn’t race me on the stairs, I look up to see if he is already there looking down and waiting for me.

I hear the mailman and immediately give Mike the stink-eye so he won’t bark his fool poodle head off.

I leave the bathroom door open when I pee because Mike will be unhappy if I close him out.

I give Mike phenobarbital every morning and every night.  I’ve been doing that for nearly nine years.

I take Mike with me when I do errands – he has a red and white blanket in the back seat of my car.

Every night when I go to bed, Mike settles in with his head resting on my legs while I read my book.  When I turn out the light, he jumps off and goes to his bed in the corner.

I talk to Mike at least 25 times a day.

Sometimes I sing the song “Wild Thing You Make My Heart Sing” and Mike jumps up and put his front paws on my shoulders and we “dance”.

Mike and I nap together on the couch – our heads on opposite sides.  We share a blankey.

Mike under blankey

I am lonely and sickened.  It is hard to move forward.  I feel like that TV commercial where the guy dives into the swimming pool full of caramel and can hardly move.  I wake up in the morning and lie there for an hour or two and think about Mike.  I’m irritable and distracted.  I think I need to have my head examined.  I feel like I should try to function better, but I really don’t care.  When I look at myself in the mirror, I don’t look so good.  I feel guilty if I don’t remember Mike is gone for even one minute.  I wonder if I’ll ever be the same again.  I know I’ll be the same again.  I just don’t know when.

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.

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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