Random Thoughts and Flat Apple Pie

~ The ‘Let’s Write That Book!’ blog series is starting Sunday, November 17th — not 16th — as this editor realized. And I’m the one heading the series …. sheeh….

 

~ Second wonderful day of retirement and I’m feeling sick and worn out. I wonder if that’s a psychological letdown or a medical paradox? I still feel like I’m on vacation and have to report to duty next Monday. That always made me feel sick…

 

~ Don’t teach your dog to bark at squirrels in the bird feeder if you don’t let them bark 24-7. My husband taught (as a joke) and we’ve been joking at 6 a.m. for the past few months. Now that I can sleep in it’s not so funny.

 

~ We dropped our Dish TV subscription and have been living through Amazon Prime and a pretty decent TV antenna. I have to watch my favorite TV shows through my computer hooked up to the TV now, which I don’t mind, but I’m finding I am caring less and less about all those TV shows that I had  to keep up with when I had DISH. I’d rather listen to music or watch Chinese TV series with English subtitles now. Strange turn.

 

~ The further I get from actually going to Paris, the further I am getting from writing book about going. I am hoping this is a temporary pause due to real life circumstances, but all the research and daydreams and twists in the story just make me tired.

 

~ Writing is making me tired.

 

~ I have to learn to cook all over again. With hubby on night shift and me coming home before he leaves, either he’s cooked and left it for me or I was on my own for dinner. Cans of ravioli aside, I haven’t tried to be Julia Child in quite a while.

 

~ Do you go through ebbs and flows like this too? Does time bring you back where you want to be? 

 

~ Think I’ll go make a Flat Apple Pie. Dessert is good for the soul.

 

Movin’ On

Life is always turning, turning, turning.

Yesterday at 7 a.m. I was struggling to get my act together to get to work on time. Snow and cold had put their marks on the Midwest, always making the trip to work a slow go.

Yesterday at 2:30 p.m. I was carrying out one lone box of ‘stuff’ to show for 18 years of employment.

Due to company restructuring, they had decided to let a number of us go. 

I understand the decision; I just never thought I’d be on the receiving end of the down side of it. 

Don’t feel bad for me — I was planning on retiring December 20th anyway. I am near the end of getting my ducks in a row and planning for the busy second part of my life. I feel bad for those who are 15, 20 years younger than me. They most likely are still looking for their ducks.

The world sends conflicting messages all the time. Plan for the future. Live in the now. Worry about retirement at age 30. Don’t retire until you’re 70. The economy is booming. Unemployment rates are low. Yet companies are downsizing. Profits are quirky.

Where does one fit in all this confusion? After all, there are conflicting messages there, too.

Everything passes. Life goes on in waves. Ride the high ones, hold on in the low ones. Don’t take anything for granted. Find a reason to be happy outside your job. Be your job.

I know how lucky I am to be on the up side of the down side of restructuring. It is nothing more than timing. This could have happened ten years ago, too. It just so happened it didn’t.

I wanted to be a writer for my company, and I did a fairly good job of it.

Now it’s time to pursue that career in the next half of my life. But on more of my schedule than the man’s. 

So do I have a solution for yet another chapter of grief and redemption in this world?

No — except to pay attention to where you are, look around you now and then for future endeavors, and still live each day like it was your last. Live in the moment, realizing each moment is merely a drop in the big pool of the future, which quickly turns into the past.

And you can’t change the past.

 

 

Retirement Whether You Want It Or Not

Within a couple of months I will officially be retired.

No more worrying about driving to work in snow and slop. No more worrying about punching in late because I cant get my tired butt moving fast enough in the morning. No more scraping off my windows or driving to and from work in the dark. No more getting up at 6 a.m. and force-feeding a shower whether I need it or not.

I should be ecstatic. But somehow, I’m not 100% with that yet.

For there will also be no more beautiful sunrises to see on my way to work. I don’t usually come to my work town, so no more slow rides through the beautiful countryside that inspired two novels and a short story. No more pot lucks and sharing moaning groaning work stories with co-workers. No more chances to actually turn my job into something I love.

Of course, this transition comes to us all. I have worked 50 years to get to this point in my life. It should be — and will be — another turning point. A chance to do the things I really have wanted to do but have never had time to do.

Time to start making Angel Tears™ for art fairs. (more about that another day). More time to write. More time to see my grandkids. More time to actually organize my home. I want to start taking free classes at the University in my hometown. I also want to start freelancing proofreading and editing on the side.  I want to sleep in, stay up until 2 am, and not fear turning off the alarm and falling back asleep.

Yet I can’t help look back at all the years I’ve spent working for someone else. Except for a 7 year stint as a B&B owner, I’ve owed my soul — and paycheck — to the “man.” I try not to look back too much, for it’s easy to see the trials and fails I’ve had. The steps backwards I took to get where I am today.

It’s easy to see the dreams I once had of having a successful career. The steps I took and the steps I should have taken.

But there is no going back. No chance to change decisions, directions, or choices. That’s the payment for a life well lived.

The good thing is that I really believe I have another 20-30-40 years to make a difference. That’s a lot of time. I can encourage my grandkids to be proud of who they are and the contributions they will make to making the world a better place. I can make sparkly things that make people smile when they look out the window. I can contribute to the world in a different way than filing and updating computer records and making beds for visitors.

I can finally find out who I am.

There will be an adjustment period, no doubt. But that is something worth wading through — something worth dancing through.

For there is always a party on the other side.

 

Mirrored Reality

Life is kinda funny.

Of course, you already know that. Where else could you start traveling north and eventually wind up in the south?

Your mind loves playing tricks on you. Now, most of us don’t mind being fooled now and then, especially if the outcome is not dramatic or traumatic.  I think it worsens as you get older, too.

Be that as it may….

When you are one way, you wonder what it would be like to be another way. Your mind gets used to what ‘is’, yet hopes to get you pumped about what ‘could be’. Most times that’s okay. It encourages us to look for new jobs, new places to walk, new books to read and such.

Sometimes change is important. Getting out of an abusive relationship, a dead end job, or a poisonous atmosphere are changes definitely worth making. The future has to be better than where you are.

But the mind loves messing around with you. Teases you that maybe what you initially thought as rough really isn’t that rough.

The thought of retirement is like that.

You’ve worked all your life. Answered to countless bosses, co-workers, and job descriptions. You spend a few extra days at home and think “this is the life. I could do this forever.”

And, indeed, cleaning house or changing kitty litter or grocery shopping are even trade offs for sleeping in an hour later or eating breakfast at 1 p.m. After all, you have to do those jobs anyway. But you don’t have to sell things or stand in an assembly line or input data or punch a time clock.

Then your mind starts to trick you. Oh, maybe work isn’t really that bad. After all, I still get to be with my kids in the evening, go to soccer and basketball games, go out to dinner on weekends. I can take vacation when I want and still get paid for it; I can hang with my work friends and maybe even work my way up the corporate ladder.

So you put off thoughts of leaving.

Then you get back to work Monday morning and it’s still the frustrating mess you left behind last week. There are no new jobs to apply for; your co-workers and you still complain and get up too early and are never understood. You once again realize that retirement looks like the way out.

Why does our mind only care about where we are at the time?

You can think through anything and come out with the opinion you were looking for. Logic kinda sidesteps and all these reasons to come or go pop up. Reasons you weren’t looking for in the first place. Reasons to stay. Reasons to go.

Retirement is my mental bag at the moment; yours may be a dream vacation, taking a class, or having dinner with your family. The point is — don’t be afraid of change.

Beware of the alternative universe. Don’t talk yourself out of doing what you really want to do. The opportunity may come again, but it will be different. YOU will be different. But your alternate reality won’t be.

And your mind will have fooled you again.

 

 

I’m Going For It

I’m going down in a blaze of glory
Take me now but know the truth

~ JON BON JOVI, Blaze of Glory Lyrics @ Universal Music Publishing Group, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Have you ever gone for it…put all your eggs in one basket…taken a chance for something you want that you’ll probably not get but thought what the he]], why not?

That’s what I’m doing today.

Later this afternoon is my performance review at work. Don’t know how bad it will be, and, really trying to be a glass-half-fill kinda gal, hope it will be positive.

Positive enough that I can push my agenda One More Time.

I’ve worked my way up through the company, from order clerk to coordinator to Internet Data Conversion Analyst Specialist to Digital Writer to Writer. It’s been a long time coming, and I’m coming to the end of the road career wise. With a company that is in the middle of a growth flux (and every hire and fire that goes with it), there still is no social media person/director/expert.

Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about science book
Don’t know much about the French I took

~ SAM COOKE, HERB ALPERT, LOU ADLER

I don’t have a college degree, am not a young 30’s hipster on social media, but I do know sales. I do know social media and writing.

And I do know what I want.

So today, if the review goes well, I’m going to submit three pages of ideas and tell them why I’d make such a good social media coordinator.

I suppose I’m in a unique position. I don’t have 30 years of paid employment ahead of me. If I continue on the path I’m currently on, I’ll be retired by December. And that is just fine with me. I’ve put in my dues for over 50 years.

But if there’s a chance — just a chance — that I can finally do what I feel I was born to do — write — then I’m going to take that chance.

Best case scenario — I get the job and love it.

Second best case scenario — I get the job and hate it.

Worst case scenario — I am presumed presumptuous and fired.

Second worst case scenario — I am not fired but relegated to updating the website.

Either way, I’m going for it. I’m nervous, hesitant, full of doubt and insecurity. I also am optimistic, positive, and know what I know.

I’ll let you know either way. But either way, if there’s something within your grasp, don’t fear going for it either.  Grabbing and falling is much better than not grabbing and rotting from not moving.

Have you ever “gone for it”? How did it go?

 

 

Retirement Comes For Us All

A good friend of mine retired today, with a little pomp and circumstance and an overly-sweet retirement cake.

Cal is my work friend. He was the director of our Science catalogs, I was his coordinator for 11 years, meaning I put his product numbers into Filemaker, proofread his catalog pages,  and generally helped keep his p’s and q’s in order.

Somewhere between the p and the q we started talking about writing. Not many people at work know I have a blog, nor do they know about all the writing I’ve done. But somehow Cal and I found a common ground outside of work and started talking about writing, then shared our stories and writings.

As you all know, it’s hard to find someone who shares your passion. Whether it’s fishing or golf or writing, not everybody is in tune to what you’re tuned into. So to find another writer within the vanilla cubicle confines of my daily abode was a gem in the making.

Like any company, mine is in flux. Growing, expanding, taking new directions. The old guard is leaving and a younger, fresher version is moving in. What worked 5, 10 years ago doesn’t work today. So the prospect of retirement is sweeter for many of us over the age of 60.

We are not getting squeezed out as much as slowing down. I am as bright, as creative, as I was 20 years ago. But I must admit that at 64 my processing computer isn’t quite as fast as it used to be. So by the time I retire I will be so glad to let corporate America pass me by.

You don’t always think about retirement — hell, until recently for me it was something that was far, far away. But since I can’t fight time, I might as well embrace it.

That’s what my friend Cal will be doing. I’m sure he’s had plenty of ups and downs in his life. But finally things are coming together and the doors have opened to his “next” career. Maybe it will be writing. Maybe he will travel and become a professional traveler.

Maybe he will just enjoy the next 30 years of his life.

In the end, that’s what we all hope will happen to us. Isn’t it? A chance to spend another quarter of our life waking up when we want to.  A chance to spoil grand kids, work in your garden, paint paintings, meet friends for lunch. Eating breakfast at noon and lunch at 5. Finally doing whatever it is you’ve always wanted to do.

Cal, I wish you open roads, low scoring golf games, and a writing career that rivals J.K. Rowlings. There’s no doubt your stories will rival those of Asimov. After all — you are the Science Guy —

Keep Your List Long

listDue to a change of plans, I am home alone for the weekend. The weather is beautiful, the sun warm, the breeze making my windchimes sing.

So far I want to drive to the gas station for flavored coffee, write a couple of chapters on my novel, move the stuff from my tiny closet to a now-spare-bedroom closet, vacuum, dust, make shrimp in red sauce, walk the magic trail behind the university, walk my own magic trail on my property, sew bling on a particular top, change the kitty litter, shorten the sleeves on a new hoodie, watch the rest of Rome, write a poem, find new artists for my SEAG, read my WordPress buddie’s blogs, ride my bike, rearrange the deck, brush out the cat, and edit another novel.

And it’s only mid-morning.

The only thing I’ve managed to do so far is go get flavored coffee.

Am I the only one who plans big and falls short? All the time?

I often wonder if I would have enough time to do it all if I were retired. Doing the job thing from 6 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. (that includes getting ready) five days a week doesn’t leave much time to fool around. You would think I would have an Architectural Digest-sort of house, lovely gardens, published novels, spiffy wardrobe, plus time to excercise/walk/ride with all the free time I have before I go to sleep at night.

We’re never home on the weekends — whose fault is that? Between visiting the kids and camping and my hubby leaving for work at 4 p.m. on Sundays, there’s not much time left for anything except doing the dishes and laundry. And maybe ONE fun, great meal. If we’re around.

I have talked to many retirees who have told me it doesn’t get better.

It gets worse.

How can that be?

They let me in on a secret. The more time they have the more they think they can do.

Of course, sitting on the deck, listening to the wind blow the windchimes, gets equal billing with mowing the lawn. Painting a picture gets just as much private time as washing and putting away laundry. And they still manage to see kids, grandkids, friends, old co-workers. They manage to get a walk in along with stopping by the farmer’s market, build things in their workshop, write poetry, rearrange furniture, watch a movie, repair the lawnmower, and dozens of other things.

Many of them say they don’t have enough time in their day, either.

I’m beginning to think that Einstein knew more than he told us. That time is relative. For one person time flies by; for others, it takes an eternity to tick out an hour.

I tell myself I’d rather have an overly-long list of “to-do”s than a short list of anything. Having too many things to do in one day assures you that there will be things to do tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. That the Reaper can’t possibly come and visit because your list is too long and he’ll just have to come back when that list is done.

Which makes me think of a few more things I’d like to add…

 

You Are (not) Getting Sleeeepy…

eyesDo you suffer from the modern-day dilemma called insomnia?

It’s just after midnight, and I’m still wide awake. Through time I have done all the things I’m supposed to do to fall asleep. I’ve taken a warm bath, sipped chamomile tea, listened to soft music. I’ve listened to no music at all. I have cut out caffeine during the day and take my meds in the morning instead of night. Except for right now, I am off the computer by 8; I’ve read books, tried meditation, boring movies, and total silence. I have picked up the pace of walking, both at work and after work. Tried carbs, no carbs; sugar, no sugar. Bedtime snacks. No snacks.

And yet here I am.

I’ve heard various statistics about those who suffer from insomnia. Without doing extensive research at 12:06 a.m., I believe about 60% of older people suffer from some sort of sleep interruption. Not too long ago I read an article that said that as you get older, your body rhythms change, throwing off your sleep patterns.

Surprise.

I have tried prescriptions, and even though I get a hard night’s sleep, I’m the Walking Dead the next day. So those are out. OTCs are more trips into Zombieland. There are dozens of articles on the Internet telling me why I can’t sleep, but that doesn’t change the fact that I can’t sleep.

Sooo…I prefer to think of this stage of my life as preparing for retirement.

I believe that somewhere in the cosmic timeline is a bend in the road; a crack in the sidewalk that says, enough is enough. The fifth dimension astro influence is saying: You’ve worked your a$$ off all your life, first getting up at all hours with your babies, then staying up all hours waiting for your teenagers to get home, husbands on second shifts getting home at 5 a.m., getting up for work at 6 a.m. for the past 45+ years — enough is enough. Us higher forms of consciousness are preparing you for the day you don’t have to get up to an alarm, don’t have to punch a time clock, don’t have to put data in a computer, or drive to and from work in blizzards and thunderstorms and fog.

Of course, the cosmos’ clock and my biological clock are two different things. The cosmos doesn’t get that I still have a few years left before I can sleep in and/or stay up all night. That I have bills to pay and obligations to meet before I can sleep till 10, have a cup of coffee on the deck, go for walks, play in the garden, and take naps whenever I want.

Did our parents have this problem? Our grandparents? Is it because we don’t work the fields for 10 hours a day that our bodies don’t work to their peak performance? Stress is always a factor. But our parents had stress, too. As did our grandparents. And so on.

It is true we are living in a whirlwind society. That technology moves faster than the speed of light, and if we don’t at least make an attempt to keep up with it, we become as rigid as the statues in our gardens.  With TV and movies and music blaring in our faces and politics boiling our blood and self-centered people taking over our every day world, it’s hard to slow down enough to sleep, no less breathe.

I know my retirement won’t be much of a slowdown. But I will let my biological clock take over, and go wherever the wind blows.

Until then, I’ve found some really cool gemstones on the Gemtopia Shopping Network…

 

Whooo Are You? Who Who..Who Who?

confusing body painting 2I was going to write about my life feeling like a tornado. But the thought made me dizzy, so I changed directions, and am going to talk about  —  I don’t know what to talk about.

More often than not my life is like that. I feel like I’m going frontwards, backwards, up the center of that tornado, and not making much headway. So I had a long talk with myself on the drive home from work today, and have decided that I’ve got to quit fighting with the world and to just be myself.

Now, I tell myself that every other day. I’m sure you do, too. And yet you go back to work, to your family, hiding the same thoughts, acting like a semi-obedient kid, counting the days until vacation, until Saturday, until retirement.

In my little one-on-one today, my good girl/bad girl really struggled to find a happy balance. Now, I am a happy person. I love my family, my paint-in-the-butt pets, my house and my habits. I’m not what you’d considered repressed — more like befuddled.

I never thought about retiring. I am too young to retire. Retirement is for old people. I know I wrote a blog about that some time ago, and the truth is that not much has changed. And that’s the problem. I haven’t noticed the clock moving backwards any, so all I have is the NOW and tomorrow’s NOW and so on and so forth. I told myself that it’s about time to stop wasting the NOWs wanting things that just aren’t going to change. There will always be worlds that fit like a glove, and others that fit like size 6 spandex. And not being “there” is alright all on its own.

My Goddess self said Knock It Off.

And so I have.

I really am going to (try) stop whining and get to gettin’ on. I have novels to finish, novels to edit, boho clothes to buy, and star roads to wander down. I suppose this wanderlust looks a bit like dementia, but since it’s purposeful, on-purpose wandering, I’m not too worried.

Have you gotten to the place in your life where enough is enough? I’m not saying I’m going to tell my boss off or spend lots of money on foofy things or start ordering from Amazon and Zulilly, but I am tired of feeling the victim of the world all the time. The bullying stopped by the time I was in high school. It started again about 10 years ago, but it stopped last November. So there’s no reason why I can’t live my life the way I want to. Who knows what that will be? I’d like to get to the point where I don’t feel guilty sleeping in on the weekends or having ice cream for breakfast. I want to write instead of do dishes and work on my blog instead of researching pin numbers.

It’s so much easier said than done, isn’t it? I know we all have different learning curves. Some curves have been much more brutal than mine, some easier. But we’re all striving to find out who we are.

No — we’re all striving to BE who we are. And it can’t be that hard.

I think if we were honest, we’d all be some jagged, bejeweled, bewitched, unpredictable conglomeration of blood and bone and pinky guts that is full of love and hope and magic.

I can be that. How about you?

 

TunnelVision

xListening to some mellow middle-of-the-road music yesterday, I began feeling a little melancholy.  A little sad. But not for the reasons you — or I — would first think. A few fellow employees have retired these past few days, and I find that I’m saying goodbye, not to those who are moving into the glorious sunset of the future, but to my own last days before into that same glorious sunset.

The retiring of two more “oldies” was an inevitable step towards the future. The changing of the guard, so to speak. Stepping out the door were two more of the microfiche and typewriter world, making room for the tablet and Bluetooth generation.  And while that is the natural order of things, I found my dreams of being someone, something, more, walking out the door with them. And I didn’t like that feeling.

The working world is built for the fast, the curious, the nimble. It moves too fast for those who grew up on record players and black and white TVs. The harder I try and keep up, the further behind I fall. Which is also the nature of things.  But when I looked at the picture poster boards of those who have left, I saw young workers, bright workers, working and laughing and making the working world a better place. Forty years worth of working and laughing and making the working world a better place. And suddenly those 40 years were gone in a heartbeat; a glance backwards to that ever-growing tunnel of used-to-be.

Through their 40 years I see my own timeline. I see flashes of my kids playing soccer, or sitting on Santa’s lap, or singing in the grade school choir. I see my first job as a linofilm typist and my most exciting job working in downtown Chicago and my failed job as a bed and breakfast owner. And as the retirees walk away from the only life they’ve known for 30 or 40 years, I wonder where my own past 30 or 40 years have gone.

In the melancholy of the last few days of their structured work place, I find a lifetime’s worth of struggle and passion disappearing in a puff of smoke, replaced for a moment by a cake with too-sweet frosting and a card signed by well wishers. How can one’s life achievements be reduced to a single goodbye? To a “thanks for the memories” speech?

I want to stand in the middle of the street and scream, “I am so much more!”

Yet looking backwards it seems I never got a chance to prove it. The fog obscures my vision, 20 or 30 or 40 years looking the same as 2 or 4 or 6 months ago. The mistakes I’ve made, the choices I’ve made, may have brought me to this place, but so would other mistakes, other choices. Life is really a game of craps, throwing the dice a symbol of pretending to have a say in anything. We are our DNA; we are our chemical imbalances and out superstar achievements. So we have to work with what we’ve got.

The tears that stung and blurred my eyes were not so much for the old guard passing as they were for my own life passing. Wondering if all there is to life is 40 years and a super sweet cake. Guess I’ll just have to wait until my own super sweet cake comes along to see how I weather the foggy storm of retirement.

Suddenly the music changed. Kick Start My Heart. I cranked it up.  And all I wanted to do was smush that retirement cake into someone’s face.

Damn, I love being me.

 

 

Scared Straight

scaredA beautiful Sunday morning — a bit cloudy, a bit cool, but quiet, romantic, inspirational. The younger side of me says I should go for a walk, clean out the basement, do all sorts of “active” things on my one full day off. My creative side says it’s a great day to sit and write. You can imagine which one I am going to listen to.

I was all pumped up this morning to write about an article I just wrote for Retirement and Good Living (http://retirementandgoodliving.com/retirement-is-a-10-letter-word/) which is about retirement and the doors that open once you say sayonara to punching a time clock or being a slave to an alarm clock. (It’s really a great article…check it out!)

But on my way here I had to pass through Yahoo, and couldn’t help but stop and peek at the news headlines.  A singer demands a wheelchair-bound member of the audience stand before he continued his concert. Another singer asked the world to “Forget My Weird Butt — Check out my Underboob!”   This sports figure beat his 4-year-old with a switch and this other knocked his girlfriend out. And I begin to wonder — what’s the point?

We struggle all our lives to make it to the golden grounds, only to find it’s polluted with nonsense and outrageous behavior. I know show business has been show business since the first caveman bopped another on the head and a third thought it funny. But I also am seeing how it takes more and more to get a rise out of an audience these days. Things that were off-color years ago are the rage today, and being a close-to-senior makes it even more difficult to fathom where entertainment will go next.

I myself am a parody of the media of today. One of my favorite television shows has turned gruesomely violent this year, and some part of me still wants to watch what “happens” to all of them in the end. As if my moral compass ticks and says, “they’re all so bad something bad HAS to happen to them.” Another show I started to watch has turned into such a screwed up mess that all I want to do is see what the alien baby looks like. I could care less about the drama surrounding the main characters. Just let me see the end product. One of my favorite chefs is a pillar of manners in one show and a cursing madman in another.

The world has become a frightening place of voyeurs watching, not doing. I myself am squirmy at blood and guts. I abhor violence and am a fraidy cat when it comes to people yelling or losing their temper and throwing things (or worse). Yet I find myself sitting on the edge of the entertainment world, watching it from afar, uncomfortable and nightmarish, looking for a silver lining amongst the blood and gore.

Even the writing world has broken its limits as to what is readable and what is not. Everyone around me has read this entertaining novel about a man who murders a family and the girl survivor who unknowingly hitches a ride with him in his camper. I freaked out about half way through the novel, tried to read it again and again, but just couldn’t get passed the kid who was killed and stitched up in the window.

What makes the world rotate like this? Why is humanity such a violent place?

I know this topic is way off the retirement mark. But it’s like I pretend that once I “retire” I can cut off the horror of the world and live in my own antiseptic version of reality. That I can wake up and write and clean a little and go watch my grandson play soccer and the world will be a safe one to fall asleep in.

Which, of course, is a fantasy in itself.

My solution is a naive one, yet I believe it will help me keep what little innocence I still have. Stop watching TV shows that butcher anything but a chicken, let the entertainment world entertain itself, and stick by the simple things in life that make me happy. I don’t need to be involved with the parts of the world I can’t do anything about — I should stick with those parts where what I do DOES matter. Work with disabled children, walk for the Cure, be a shoulder to cry on for friends who are having a hard time of things.  Go to charity events that benefit those I love, help those less fortunate get back on their feet.

Life is too short to be worrying about entertainer’s wardrobe malfunctions or their asinine antics in front of an audience.  Let them live in their world, and I’ll live in mine.

Besides — how funny would it be if MY wardrobe malfunctioned?

 

Not Today

computer-freakout-gifI have finally started to settle down from my week in Eagle River, Wisconsin. “Great Times Come With the Territory” is the ER code. I tend to agree. I went up with my grandbaby and daughter-in-law at the beginning of the week, the Men joining us on Friday. Every day I kept saying “I could get used to this.” Sleeping in late, not much cleaning to speak of, morning walks to the lake, boat rides, naps — you get the picture.

I also found myself slowly melting into a pool of pudding. A little less motivation each day. More of an urge to sit on the deck with a drink (mostly non-alcoholic), making small talk, reading Game of Thrones Book I. Catching rays at the beach. No TV, just DVDs and VHS tapes. I had a slow Internet connection, but it was just enough to check e-mails and Facebook.

And I kept on saying, “I could get used to this.”

But I had a job and a house and two cats four hours south of the “Great Times” town that I needed to get back to. So with a sigh of resignation and a bit of Zen I returned to my ‘real’ ity.  Driving down the backroads to my office computer job this morning, I realized that maybe it was a good thing to come back when I did. Escaping for a week, forgetting after a while to check the clock, staying up late, sleeping later, really warped my reality. I found it so easy to forget about world news and office gossip and all the things that bug me. I didn’t have to compete with anyone, compare myself with anyone, nor push myself past the point of no return. I ran around morning through evening with my favorite four-year-old, screwing up my biological clock and my muscles, not caring about either.

I found myself becoming a Duh. I suppose that’s not a bad thing. If sitting and staring off the deck through the seasons became my daily fare, I imagine sooner or later my A.D.D. would kick in and I’d be rabbiting around town in no time. I’m sure I’d get back into the groove and write up a storm and maybe even put enough energy into it to get published. Or start a real live exercise routine like walking to the lake (and further) and back every morning.

Then there’s the winters up there. From November through April it’s snow boots, snow shovels, and snow flakes (both the water and people kind). Unless you are a snowmobile babe (which I definitely am not), the most action you get during the week is running to the grocery store. Writing time — maybe. Sleeping time — definitely. An easy road to Winter Duh.

So I suppose for now it’s better to be tied to a computer entering data eight hours a day, feeling overworked and under-appreciated, never having enough time to do what I need to do, less what I want to do, having problems sleeping and waking up, trying to find a way to work out my day shift with my husband’s night shift.

Better to be a frazzled, burned out Duh than a sleepy, pleasantly lethargic Duh.

At least for now.

 

Looking for the ~Pay Off~

              Sometimes I wonder where I am going with the new “freedom” in my life.  My children are finally on their own, leaving my husband and I to play together and apart, depending upon our moods and which hunting season it is.  I am pulling away from the necessity of being a “perfect” employee and actually entertain dreams of traveling through Ireland or England or at least the Smithsonian. Even though our bills are out of this rarified atmosphere, I still manage to believe that by watching TV in the dark and not turning on the air until it’s 90, I will be able to squeeze enough blood out of the turnip and put it in my savings account for a rainy day.

            I realize that the peak that I stand upon is a precarious one indeed.  Any gust of wind, any fluctuation in temperature, might turn the entire direction of my future upside down, reassuring me of a world of mountainous debt, not to mention being the oldest catalog coordinator in history.  How do those of us caught between Woodstock and Country Thunder survive?  How do we find our way through the maze of downsizing, upgrading and specialization that seems to run rampant through our lives?

            The reality of the “haves” and “have not’s” are no more marked than when I drive through downtown Chicago on my way to football games.  Living in the quiet countryside of rural Wisconsin, it’s easy to forget that there’s a dynamic, yet alternate, reality that is shared by thousands of people making millions of dollars a year or more.  Surrounded by corn and soybean farmers, it’s easy to forget that there’s a whole other species that thrive in high rise condos facing the lake and drive Porches and BMWs and take a jet to work each day.  When I drive through the thriving metropolis of the nation’s second largest city, I can’t help but notice the plethora of new structures reaching toward the heavens.  If there is a recession, the area surrounding Soldier’s Field hasn’t felt it yet.  Nor have most prime property locations in any large city.  What do these people do for a living?  What do they do in their nine-to-five lives that enable them to buy designer clothes and eat at Alinea (the most expensive restaurant in Chicago) once a month?  What could they possibly do in eight hours that I can’t do?

            All right all right. First off, they are a lot smarter than the average Joe-lene…or Joe, if you prefer. Private tutors, Ivy League schools, 4.99 GPAs — who knows what extra genes float around in their DNA. Outside their intelligent, futuristic mindset, their choices were different than mine. Their callings more focused. Precise. Obsessive. Sometimes money breeds money; other times poverty does. Hence the buildup of Metropolis. But sometimes I fear this gap between “them” and “me” will burst the few bubbles I have left floating around in my head.  After all, isn’t the preverbal rainbow just around the corner?  Isn’t that pot of gold just waiting for me to discover it? I mean, who wouldn’t want to live in one of those condos on the 56th floor of a building that faced blue water 24/7?

            I want to find a purpose in all my crummy luck. I’d like to think that there will be money left in social security for me and my friends. That I will be able to afford healthcare when I’m 75.  That there will BE healthcare when I’m 75. Economics has never been one of my strengths; I have never been able to understand the Dow Jones or the trading of futures and options on exchanges. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to change my stance in life.  I want my “golden years” to have more of a twinkle of gold than the smudge of soot.  I know that the choices I made in life were the right ones for me. I know that making a little less money through the years is nothing compared to the love and devotion I get from my children and husband and our two stupid dogs.

            But there are times I wonder if I could have tweaked the decisions I made.  That I could have, should have, stayed in the same job a little longer, spent a little less on groceries, or my last trip to Las Vegas.I don’t really regret the money that has drifted through my hands through the years. I’m not sorry having popped for the Renaissance Faire or paid for gasoline that was spent on driving to and from soccer games.

          What I do wonder is how all of this baggage will affect my newfound “freedom” as a woman of the millennium.  How buying clothes for my son from American Eagle balances the wardrobe of a woman going through her mid-life crisis — again.  How I can wear the same plaid booties I saw some young, fresh college thing wearing and not look stupid?

            I naively am waiting for the big pay off.  The jackpot. The book sale that will propel me into the world of Rowling and King.  The winning lottery ticket that will pay off my debt and leave me a little extra for that trip to Ireland.  Until then, though, I will keep working and paying my bills.  After all, my kid reminds me that it will be he who chooses my nursing home.

            I’d better behave.