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

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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

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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On being MIA, Glass-Steagall, entitlements, PDF’s, possessions, sushi, The Great Depression

I have been MIA here.  I have written a couple of blogs and not posted them because they were going to hurt someone’s feelings.  So I either have to wait for a long time, or revise them, which I don’t want to do because they are true and feel right to me, or not post them.  So this has created a logjam in my heart that did not allow me to post.  I’m going to try to correct that here by this “update blog” because I do, as always, have a lot to say.

Here a few of my thoughts…

And if there are any Republicans among you, please don’t stop reading because I like to make fun of Clint Eastwood talking to a fucking chair on national television.  Because at the end of my short political rant, it will be necessary for me to say something less than positive about my Favorite. Democrat. Ever.

I’m already tired of this idiotic political season.  This Republican (Tea) party wouldn’t nominate Ronald Reagan.  They wouldn’t mind the galloping horse of Alzheimer’s bearing down upon him and in turn us, just that he was too liberal for them when he wasn‘t all slogged down by senility.  I think we need to examine where we are going now that we have been shown how greed has brought down capitalism.  That is the real issue.  James Carville wrapped it all up in four words twenty years ago.  “It’s the economy, stupid.”  Why didn’t we sit up and listen then?  But it was a Republican Congress and my hero Bill Clinton who repealed Glass-Steagall in 1999, a law passed in 1933 after “The Great Depression”, that separated commercial and investment banking – and opened the door to the aforementioned greed that has had an adverse effect on many of our retirement plans.  Now they thought they were ensuring that Wall Street would remain the financial capital of the world but nope.  They gave the Gordon Gekkos of the world the opportunity to ruin us and these greedy pigs grabbed it and ran like the wind.  And don’t kid yourselves – we are in a depression now.  “They” will have to admit it soon.  But you know how “they” are.

If one more person refers to Social Security as an “entitlement”,  they will be entitled to my foot up their ass.  I have been paying into that system for over 40 years.  My life has not gone exactly as planned and I will NEED that money to survive.  I am presently taking applications to move in with you.  I will be bringing my dog.  I will do 75% of your cooking and all your laundry.  I will do most of the dishes this creates unless I am having a bad back spell.  Except in the summer, when I will be spending every minute I can in Maine.  My new roommate(s) may join me there where I will continue to cook and do laundry.  I will not be doing your vacuuming.  Under any circumstances.  Anywhere.  Any time.

I am unemployed.  I am not a negative person but it is likely I will never find another job in printing.  It’s a dying business.  PDF and the internet have BROUGHT HER DOWN too.  There has been a lot of “bringing down” lately.  Printing will re-emerge as a much smaller, commodity-based, lower quality industry.  It’s already happening.  That’s just the way it is.  Unfortunately, I have spent my entire life working in printing.  The last few years have been fiscally disastrous for me.  And why am I not depressed?  I have no idea.  Well actually I do.  I am a happy person.  Always have been.  I am not emotionally tied to my possessions.  I can sit and look around this room and see everything here.  What do I really want?  What would it break my heart to not have anymore?  My dog.  That is all.  I would like to keep my car and an internet connection.  You can have my cool Paris lamp.  And the flat screen and surround-sound system.  You may have my furniture; china and crystal; pots and pans; unless I am moving in with you and cooking as mentioned above.  I have some great pans.  My Chicken Cordon Bleu is to die for.  And my Boeuf Bourguignon is nothing to sneeze at.  I use Julia’s recipe.  My Paglia E Fieno does not suck.  My regular stuff is quite good too.  And I do make the best Caesar Salad on earth.  And I can make those great yummy yeast rolls we had in high school.  You can have my fancy carpets, my antiques, my outdoor furniture, appliances.  I’ve been playing with cheesecakes this year.  Coming along nicely if I do say so myself.  And I do.  I would like to keep Jake’s college graduation picture.  He looks so happy in it.  Still looking around the room.  Nope.  Nothing.  I will need clothes and a hair dryer and dog stuff.

And it’s not that I’m married to printing.  The problem is that my main skills lie in that area.  It is not easy to convince someone to hire a 56-year-old woman, allow her to change careers, and then pay her enough money to support her home, pay her mortgage, condo fees, utilities, and insurance.  She will still need to buy groceries.  Plus enough to take care of an aging, epileptic dog who needs constant monitoring and meds.  But I promise you.  I am still happy.

It’s been a beautiful, hot summer and I have enjoyed my days off.  One can spend only so much time looking for a job that does not exist.   Books have been read.  Time has been spent staring at a lake while reading these books.  A dog has been walked.  A god-awful messy office has been organized.  Clothes have been sorted and brought to consignment and Goodwill.

My dear and generous friends and family have taken me out to dinner, brought me iced coffees and coolattas from DD, made me laugh, lifted my heavy stuff, bought me sushi.  You have no idea how much I love sushi.  Thank you all very much.

This is all I have for now.

Have a great Labor Day.  It’s beautiful out there.

Cooking

I love cookbooks.

According to “The Ladies’ Room Reader” compiled by Alicia Alvrez, the first American cookbook was self-published in 1796 by Amelia Simmons, a self-proclaimed orphan, in an attempt to improve “the rising generation of females in America,” particularly of orphans.  “If orphans pay some attention to cooking, they will be welcome wherever they are, and may even attract husbands,” opined the author of this popular tome, which went through four editions.

I am not an orphan and I have “attracted” a couple of husbands and a few non-husbands too, and cooking is something I know about.  When I got my first job way back in the early 70’s, I immediately joined a book club and my first shipment included my dear friend Betty Crocker.  I am now the owner of many, actually too many, cookbooks.  But I still have Betty and refer to her often.  Here’s a picture of my cookbook.  It is all beat up and you may not be able to see it in this picture but it is held together by clear packing tape.  And the cake pages have blobs of chocolate all over them.

Now that I’m unemployed, I’ve been cooking more.  I love to cook.  But it can be time consuming and I have time now.  I made my first ever cheesecake and I’ve been experimenting with bread, something I have been interested in for years.  I overcame my “yeast fear” several years ago when learning to make Yeast Rolls.  Do you remember those rolls from high school lunch?  There were so good.  I can make them.  And they are still great.

I find cooking relaxing.  I even like grocery shopping because it gives me ideas.  And sometimes I read cookbooks like novels.  So I spent a little time this Sunday making bread.  I did not knead by hand – just at the end to get the last of the dust combined.  I do have a nice big KitchenAid and a dough hook.  I feel sorry for the ladies who used to make bread by hand and had to knead for 10 minutes.  That dough gets very resistant at the end.

So this bread is delicious.  It’s just Betty Crocker’s plain old white bread.  I made whole wheat the other day and I liked that more.  I’m making walnut bread next.  I have high hopes for that.  And one of my French cookbooks has a recipe for a Eight-Grain bread that has many different kinds of seeds including sesame, pumpkin, flax and sunflower.  I’ll keep you posted.

The Battle of the Bulge

A friend asked me about Weight Watchers – anything I wanted to tell her.  I started thinking it was fodder for a blog post.  And I wrote this next paragraph before Thanksgiving.  Before I “fell off” the dieting wagon.  So here goes.

I go.  I weigh in.  Keeps me honest.  I eat very little of the prepared food.  Sometimes I keep a couple of packaged Weight Watchers dinners in the freezer for emergencies.  Or if I get up really late and don’t have time to make my lunch.  I eat cereal, skim milk and strawberries or banana for breakfast.  Or oatmeal or farina.  Or toast and apple sauce.  Or hard boiled egg(s).  I eat a lot of eggs.  Usually rice and vegetables for lunch.  Apples, clementines, raisins.  Big salads with cut up chicken, gorgonzola.  Baby carrots.  Popcorn.  A pork chop with a big pile of vegetables.  Tomatoes, mushrooms, capers over pasta.  I keep a box of chicken broth in the fridge all the time.  I use it in lieu of olive oil when I “saute” vegetables.  I make several days lunch at the same time.  Sometimes I pack as much as I can at night and just add the cold stuff in the A.M.   Diet Canada Dry Ginger Ale.  I have ice cream every Saturday.  Its really flexible. And you will find your favorite things.  I do weigh and measure.  It gets easier all the time.  I’m used to it.  I am into it.  Keeping my eyes on the prize.  Is this good info?

So Thanksgiving.  Great week.  I blogged about it already.  I had a blast.  I had company and the week off and went out almost every night.  Met a friend for dinner Monday night.  Went out to lunch Tuesday and it was downhill from there.  Such a slippery slope.  I ate lots of stuff.  In addition to the piggy Thanksgiving dinner, I ate cereal snack, scones and butter, chocolate cream pie, fried dough pizza, chocolate brownie cheesecake, artichoke dip, lobster bisque, three-layer chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and chopped up peanut butter cups in between and on top, need I say more.  You can be sure I didn’t bother to write any of it in my food diary.  CRASH.  CRASH.  CRASH.

I’m having an awful hard time getting back on the wagon.  I know I’ll do it but I’m struggling.  I have lost a ton (well 40 pounds) over the last year.  And I want to keep on going.  But it’s hard.  I’m an addict.  I want everything that tastes good or feels good.  Combine them, as in the case of wine for instance, and I’m a goner.

What to do.  What to do.  I don’t see this getting any easier through the next couple of weeks.  For instance, I am invited to – count ‘em – five Christmas parties on Saturday.  My sister and her family are coming to Connecticut a week from today and staying for more than a week.  I haven’t seen my nephew in over 2 years and I’m trying to remember how long its been since I’ve seen my niece – maybe 6 years?  Not to mention my sister and my FBIL (favorite brother-in-law).  Cookies and candy at work.  I feel like I’ve lost it.  Social life and food – so closely interwoven.  I went to a Christmas party last night.  I had the most decadent delicious delectable dessert.  It was a pie.  Bottom layer was peanut butter fudge, then a layer of chocolate mousse, topped with whipped cream and crushed peanut brittle.  It’s the chocolate.  I cheated and ate other stuff, but I didn’t go nuts – with the quantity anyway.  But I’ve let the devil chocolate back into my life and now I’ve got to fight to get him out.  I can say this one thing – there is no chocolate in my house.  That would be a disaster.  Oh yeah, I got a box of chocolates for my birthday.  Killed that off.  I can say one other good thing – at least I don’t drink alcohol.

Anyhow, I’m trying.  I was good all day today.  I was pretty good yesterday until dessert.  I was very good Sunday.  I was a little bad Saturday.  I’m trying to remember that this is a lifestyle change and I have to stick to my food plan as much as I am able.  I’m definitely a screwball in my brain.  But I’m very hopeful because I’m not mad at myself.  If I got down on me, I would probably really mess this up.  But I’m so self-analytical that I’m more curious than anything.  I believe if I just hang in there, my willpower will reappear and I’ll be back at it again.  That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.

But in the meantime…  Any suggestions?  Encouraging words?  Anything at all to give me a verbal slap up side my head?  To turn on the lightbulb in my brain?  I could sure use the help. 

My friend Susan made the one on the left.  I made the one on the right.  We can cook.  Yep.  We really can.