Thursday, December 31, 2009

'Pajamas Worn Boldly... diamonds from Za-ales! Pajamas they sold me, Hon! I'm doing the dog walk, and baking a squash pie. And when the laundry is done.....I'm strolling to my space. To do my own thing! To write with some zing! My blo-ooog, while there's light....Whoo-oo-eee...whoo-oo-eeee..."

To get the real feel for the beginning of this blog, you have to sing it to the tune of "Blues in the Night." Also, it is Rosemary Clooney's version and the best rendering in my estimation. Now try it again, with feeling and emphasis where appropriate. And sing nice and loud; no one can hear you. I can wait....... (As an aside, my diamonds are not from Zales, but it rhymed.)

This is one of my favorite songs from "Rosemary Clooney's 16 Greatest Hits" CD. I listen to this album quite often while I'm writing. The song was written in 1941 by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer for the film of the same name. Arlen is quoted as saying, "The whole thing just poured out. And I knew in my guts, without even thinking, what Johnny would write for a lyric...".

Whenever I read those words "I knew in my guts" and "just poured out" from a writer of any medium, I feel so envious. Is it that writers become so attuned to writing that they eat, sleep and drink it? Is it the years or decades of hard work that result in the flood of so-called "sudden" inspiration? To sit and write with no critical thoughts, no thoughts of rewrites; the words coming from God's mouth to your ear. I am in awe of this entire concept.

"You never have to change anything that you got up in the middle of the night to write." This is quote by Saul Bellow, an esteemed author, lecturer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1975 for his book, Humbolt's Gift, and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1976. I would add to that: "... or change anything you wrote under the affluence of incohol before dinner fot cully gooked."

Anyone else have this problem? Ever e-mail anyone after a couple of grogs? "Fix" your resume or your blog entry when you've tried on a few belts for the evening? Got a few night caps pulled on and thought to be irretrievably witty??? Oi. It's not the very worst idea I ever had. My worst idea to date was in helping my friend, Suzy, down a flight of stairs when she was fully debauched. Her big toe folded under her foot, she crunched it like fat African grub and the party ended.

Quite often I revise my blog entries between my first rum and Coke while making dinner and again at the end of my second rum and Coke after the dishes are done and hubby's watching the news. (I'm a very cheap date; two drink limit.) The next day when I review my blogs for content and continuity, I'll notice changes I didn't realize I made. The revisions are usually not so bad that I'm horrified. Sometimes, but not often, they are better, funnier, and wittier. Maybe there a Hemingway-esque, alcohol-induced quality to my writing? It is said he wrote well in spite of his "little problem" and not because of it. But, I don't think ol' Ernie had a two-drink limit like I do.

This process of writing isn't so much about writing after all. For me it's about reading, more reading, research and more research. And let's not forget staring blankly out the window while I pickity-pick a friggin' hangnail clear to my elbow trying to chart my next move on the keyboard. Excuse me while I go get a bandaid...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Leave the Seat Up, I'm On a Diet...

My wild, beautiful, intelligent hairdresser, whom I'll call, Amiya, meaning "boundless" in Sanskrit, suggested the subject of this blog. She is a world traveler, funny, a laugh like a temple bell. She thinks I'm hysterical. What more is there to like about her?

She's fast approaching a landmark birthday and, like all of us gals, wants to be the same size we were back "when." We got on this subject in such a roundabout way. We were grousing about men and their habits of leaving stuff places and leaving the toilet seat up and such. She said "Don't you hate it when you get up in the middle of the night to go pee, and you don't put on the light because you don't want to wake up all the way. You get in there and go to sit and your ass hits the water because YOUR HUSBAND LEFT THE GODDAMNED SEAT UP?!!! Of course, we'd been laughing the whole time she'd been cutting my hair, so we were in prime form for continuing in this vein. So I said, "Amiya, you know what would be terrible? Is if your ass was so big it didn't fit into the toilet when the seat was up. That would be so much worse than taking a frigid fanny founder at midnight."

Well, we struck on an idea at that point. We've come up with a new diet plan. No more weighing on a hateful scale. No more more taking stock with cold plastic measuring tapes that we can't read with our aging corneas anyway!!
Here it is: When you can sit on the toilet with the seat up and sink to your waist in the freezing water, you will have achieved Nirvana. Let your ass be your guide.
Is that not the simplest, most direct method you've ever heard of for weight loss? No tricks. Nothing to buy. No membership dues. No special food. Everyone has a toilet and there are toilets everywhere, all over the world. Well almost everywhere, except for Switzerland where they straddle a hole and try not to pee down their leg or poop on their shoes. No wonder they're neutral; they don't care if they go nasty cahcah on themselves for Christ's sake.

Anyhow, no more excuses for anyone! You just - - and this is key - - work your ever-lovin' ass off.

St. Augustine said, "Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you." This applies to every thing in life that is worth having. For some that is a smaller heiny, for others a bestseller on the New York Times Top Ten List. I want both and I'd settle for something in a six in either case.

The Cryin', the Twitchin' and Wardrobe Malfunction

I thought today I'd reminisce about a few instances of outright hilarity or frustration I've come to find funny from my work life over the past one score and eight years ago. These things are long hidden and have risen to the surface for reasons I cannot explain. I think it has to do with the holidays, perhaps, and getting together with my crazy family.

At my first real job, I was only nineteen, a very innocent, untraveled kid and completely unaware of my pretty good looks. I worked with only one older woman in the office of a large machine shop. That is to say, an all-male environment, before the No-Sexual-Harassment-You-F--king-Bunch-of-Apes Guidelines were made law. I was prime pickings for these pre-neanderthals.

The guy just outside the reception room door, Hacky Damon, had a huge beer gut and his nickname was "Hackys Crack." Can you guess why? C'mon, guess!! Part of my job included collecting reports from the Engineering Department. So I'd leave reception, walking out into the shop area, where Hacky worked at his machine to my left and facing me. "Hey Hacky, how're ya", I'd say, then I'd turn a sharp right, into the engineering offices and collect my reports. This was the uneventful part of my journey. It was the return trip that all the other machinists waited for with great delight because then and only then could I see the glory that was Hackys Crack. This man's pants would be suspended by the grace of God somewhere on his thighs and his entire ass-crack would be exposed for me to see along with his hairy, pimpled old man buttocks. All of the men would be standing stock still, grinning and staring, silent as lambs until I got back into my office. Then they'd burst into hysterical laughter, screaming Hacky's name, hooting and hollering. I'd like to say it was more humiliating for Hacky, but I don't think it was. It may well have been the highlight of his day.

Now to the reason why I no longer wear half-slips. They fall down. The goddamned things fall down while you're standing beside your boss getting instructions on a project. With a rush of horror, you feel a gossamer poof around your feet. You know what I said about peripheral vision being a blessing and a curse? Well, this applies here as well. The trick, men, is to get as close as possible, blurring the edges of the peripheral vision, thus limiting it, without touching the other person. Much to my great dismay, this happened in the presence of Sir Twitchy, J.D. ("Junk Diddler") my voodoo victim, and I really didn't want to get closer for fear he'd get the wrong impression and get "ideas." But I just had no choice. I felt my son-of-a-bitchin slip whoosh down my legs, and Thank Goog, I had a long skirt on that day. Horrified, I leaned in, stepped out of it, and balled it up in my right hand. Now this couldn't have happened at a better time. Sir Twitchy was such a self-absorbed crotch-whopper that he probably thought I was coming onto him, so he was riding that wave to shore while I was taking care of my little issue. Now, it's a full slip or nothing. On a clear day, you can see forever, and through my skirt.

One of my sisters said she was crossing the post office parking lot after lunch, and felt her half slip fall down around her ankles. Thinking fast, she kicked it under a nearby car and kept on walking like nothing ever happened. I would love to have seen that.

The comedian, Sinbad has a skit about a man falling down versus a woman falling down. Men trip and fall, and the whole world hears about it. He stands back up, arms flailing, getting all the attention he can for it. A woman falls down with her groceries scattered in a fifteen foot radius. You ask her if she's alright, and she has no idea what you're talking about. It wasn't her and no, those aren't her groceries. I once worked with a woman who while crossing the street was hit by a slow moving car. She rolled over the hood, landed on her high heels and kept on walking. She said the guy jumped out of his car to ask if she was okay and she said she just yelled over her shoulder "Uh huh" and kept on going. I'm laughing as I'm writing, remembering her telling about it. She was completely indifferent to admitting it even happened, just as I never admitted to anyone that my slip fell down. Until now.

Ah, memories!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ding, Dong, Heaven Calling!!!

Caroline Myss says in her book, "Your Power to Create,"
"When your whole system fills with this 'I've had enough,'... that is your first indication that Heaven is about to move you. That is your first sign that the power to create is something you better start animating. You may think that the power to create is your choice. You are absolutely mistaken."
I have read most everything that Caroline Myss has written over the years. I bought this book in audio form not long after I left my job. I was headed home after visiting my mom and when this passage came on, I started weeping and had to pull over. I played this section of the CD, entitled "Creating begins with revolution," over and over, and sat crying on the shoulder of the road. Heaven had moved me, I felt the revolt and I did something - - I quit my job and I started my writing life. To hear Caroline Myss speak the words of her book is more powerful than simply reading it. This is a woman whose plain talk appeals to me, and she believes what she writes.

What reminded me of this wonderful book was an e-mail I got from a new friend, whom I'll call Abella. This name finds its roots as a Catalan byname for beekeeper or "small and active." She is my one and only follower of this blog to date and is becoming a good friend I've never met. Not yet anyway. I've offered her a pitcher of our Island Blaster's if she'll cross the country to visit. These drinks look so benign, pink and fuzzy like a ballerina, and I'll even throw in nice blankey to curl up in when her limbs and limbic brain no longer speak to one another. Our next door summer neighbor, Solana has sworn off the Blasters because she teleported home once from our house which is maybe, and to her advantage, fifty feet away and didn't remember how. We're the people Solana visits when she wants to let her hair down, come over without makeup in her gardening clothes, eat potato chips with abandon, drop the "F" bomb, etc. We're the fun neighbors who love her for who she is.

Anyhow, so Abella e-mails me and says " risk so much with the potential of being judged, or misunderstood, or hurt so deeply," in reference to my blog. It was then I remembered what drove me to this thing I call my muse. It was Caroline Myss' voice saying Heaven had moved me and I'd better start animating this power to create because I had no other choice. I recalled the "cosmic fry pan to head" emotion I felt that afternoon, sought out the CD and listened again.

I e-mailed back to Abella that I suffered from episodes of panic where I wondered what people thought of me and my writing; most fearful of the opinions of my family and friends. I've come close to abandoning the blog many times for fear of my identity being discovered, particularly around here where I live. My not-so-inner jackass always thrashes around at those times, slinging hyphenated obscenities at my ridiculous anxieties so I can continue writing.

Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted as saying "Do one thing everyday that scares you." I think this qualifies.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Price Is Wrong

Come on dooooooooown!!! And here's your host...........GOD!!!!!!! Wouldn't it be a kick in the head if you got to the Pearly Gates and it was just like the "Price is Right" stage? And God was a guy in a suit with a mic who just wanted to know, in fact, needed to know how much you paid for the sum of your life? "How much did it cost you to live your life the way you did,' he'd ask, 'and how much of what I gave you didn't you use?" You'd be made to guess and you'd fail, of course, because you never paid attention. A giant flashing sign would light up to show you and the audience the glaring disparity. And the condemning, pitying silence would hurt like Hell.

What has me wound up and unfunny for the moment is a quote I found by the oh so great and talented Erma Bombeck who passed away in 1996. She said:
"When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, 'I used everything you gave me.' "
I've had plenty of time now to really think about the job I left, and it's real meaning to my life as a whole. The job itself meant nothing. A trained monkey, or my successor, could do the work.

Touching the people the way I did, now that's another story. This job was instrumental in reviving my compassion, where law had excised almost all of my humanity. Law is a very hands-off profession, all paper, no touching, no real concern; it's all about money, maneuvering, and horseshit. Working with people requires paying attention and honest-to-goodness caring. That job taught me patience and the art of true communication: eye-to-eye contact and real listening skills that are hard to learn and even harder to practice.

Now time seems to fly when I write, and I feel possessed by the word on the screen or page. Like Issac Asimov said, "Nothing interferes with my concentration. You could put an orgy in my office and I wouldn't look up. Well maybe once." Sounds hopeful to me, Isaac, but well-said and I agree. Will someone please put an orgy in my office for crying out loud so I can check the theory!!! Kidding... I notice the "space time continuum" most when I'm cooking something during the day. I put the timer on for forty-five minutes or whatever and it seems to ding just after I sit down to continue writing. This is astonishing to me. One blink and dawn has turned to twilight.
"The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it." Henry David Thoreau
Sitting here, tappity-tapping out my blog, or crammed in my recliner handwriting my kids book, I forfeit nothing.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Those Three Little Words...

...that are four but one is a contraction? You know which ones I mean, don't you? You're afraid to utter them aloud, but you get cornered somewhere by someone you haven't seen in awhile. And you like this person, you've known one another for years, so you feel you can tell them, right? Right? Oh it comes!

"Hey,' they say, 'I haven't seen you in so long. What are you doing now?" "Oh, I pursuing other things, so...." Now you have to tell them, after they ask you what you're doing, and you just blurt it out:


(Holy Mother of Goog! Did I just say that to someone other than the dogs and cats? Did that come out of MY MOUTH? In public - - outside of the house? Where it's unsafe, and, and, and... Why are they smiling at me like that? Oh, cock-knocking-son-of-a-whore-to-hell! Now I have to follow through with this and I don't know if I've got what it takes or not! I live in my f--king pajamas and diamond earrings. I've only the barest of fleshed out kid's book!! My mother likes it, but she's hard-wired to like it, and she's lying her ass off because she's my mother!!!)

That's my morning in a nutshell. Yup. I ran into this old friend and former client at the local Dunkin' Donuts, whom I'll call Ezra. He was one of my favorites; a well-educated and well-traveled, very intellectual guy whose charming and eccentric wife, whom I'll call Electra, passed away several years ago. They were a fantastic, exciting couple; the kind of people you wanted to know for a lifetime because they entered a room with an "oh, there YOU are" feeling. I mourned Electra's passing with Ezra, and he trudges along without her, never to be the same again. There's a great mutual admiration between us. You'd want to sip single malt with this guy.

Ezra hailed my new "career" as stellar and wished me all the luck in the world, not seeing any reason whatsoever why I won't be the next John Steinbeck. That's how he is. I told him I "hoped he lived long enough to see me become famous," as he's now in his early 80's. We laughed and went our separate ways. I certainly hope I live long enough to see my own fame and fortune!!!

Samuel Johnson is quoted as saying "When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." My mind is now a bit more concentrated than it was, Sam, and I can see the gallows in my mind's eye. Say now, that might be a good idea. I'll go make up a symbolic noose and hang it in one of the trees that I can see from my computer chair. Perhaps I could some sort of effigy in it to symbolize the death of my old profession? I'll think of something. I always do.

I once made a voodoo doll for a pal who was going to take over working for my awful attorney when I left. It looked exactly like him complete with velcro rip-off limbs and head. She needed something to take her frustrations out on, being only a few years from her pension. This guy was a misogynistic, twitchy, philandering, knucklehead who thought himself a ladies man and had perpetual jock itch or "something." What is it with some men who cannot leave their junk alone? What IS that? It's attached isn't it? It's not magnetic where gravity might have some say as to where it ends up after walking across the room, right? Or like a compass where it points true north so you have to wiggle it around depending on which way you're facing? (By the way, I've had enough exposure to said "instrument" that these questions are purely rhetorical in nature.) And, let me tell you, gents - - we can see you do this even if we're making eye contact. Peripheral vision is both a blessing and a curse.

"The story of the human race is the story of men and women selling themselves short." Abraham Maslow. This quote speaks eloquently of many people's lives. If I had played it dumb, or dumbed down my resume in any way, to get any of the jobs I've applied for thus far, I would be miserable now. As it stands, I'm very happy being unemployed and striking out at this writing life I've spoken up for. I've gone and said those three little words, "I'm a writer." And so I am.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

...a Big Difference Between Kneeling Down and Bending Over."

The original quote by Frank Zappa reads, "Remember, there's a big difference between kneeling down and bending over." Naughty, suggestive, outright crude: those things always appeal to me and that's why this quote caught my eye. The gift here is that after you smirk and chuckle at the inference, every fiber of your being agrees with the greater meaning.

I've come to accept a few key things about myself since leaving a job I thought I would retire from in twenty years. Well, "knock a sick whore off a piss pot!" my father would say. (He was a poet: it's the same meaning as "what light through yonder window breaks?" Just let that sink in....Okay, how about this: it's the "A'Hah Moment" Oprah talks about all the time. She just can't say "whore" and "piss pot" on national television, that's all, alright?) Looking back, it seems impossible I could ever have felt that way. I am thankful that the Universe forced me into a level of awareness and clarity that loosened my tongue sufficiently to seriously hasten my departure. The fact is, I deserved a better life. All my angels in Heaven wanted this for me. They were up there with their pom-poms and air horns shouting, "J-O-N-I!!! Kick 'em low! Kick 'em high! Don't give in! Don't you cry!! We'll make sure you prosper! WHY? Beeeeee Cuz We Love You!! HEY!!!" See Frank? I finally stopped bending over.

I accept the fact that I'm not going find a regular job any time soon. In chatting with Solana yesterday on Facebook, I learned that a pal of hers, a paralegal, has been unemployed for more than a year in a large metropolitan setting. Both she and her attorney were laid off at the same time and neither has found work. That's grim. Living here in a small coastal tourist town, having less than five ads in the help wanted section of the local paper is not uncommon as winter creeps in. We accept that here.

The exuberant Pearl Bailey, "sultry and statuesque, a muse in high heels," is quoted as saying, "You never find yourself until you face the truth." My revelations also include the fact that I no longer find my Self able to feel or really, pretend to be subordinate to any one ever again. This may well be the admission of a lifetime: I've never felt subordinate to anyone. Defined as: "under the control or authority of another; submissive to authority; to make subservient; of lesser order or importance; subdue," in it's various forms and usages. I could bray just reading the definition, me and my not-so-inner jackass. I don't even see this as arrogance, but self-awareness; as facing the truth about my Self. I need to work for me.

I owe this unfortunate calling to a hearty strain of kick-ass entrepreneurial genetics. Mom said Dad came home one day from his regular paying job and told her he'd quit. (They only had FIVE kids at home then.) After he picked himself up from the floor and pried the frying pan out of his skull, he explained to her that he wanted to try antique dealing and believed he could make a go of it. In fact, he knew it. Over time, both Dad and Mom became antique dealers and they were very successful, running Pigeon Hill Antiques for many years. They were self-taught and savvy as hell. I wouldn't say Dad was a liar, but he could talk the hind leg off a mule. Mark Twain said "Never tell a lie except for practice." So, let's just say, he was well-rehearsed. I guess once you took into consideration the wife and the now seven kids at home who depended upon him, it was easy to cut him some slack for his lack of veracity.

I'd like to think that my Dad sees all this, and reads my blogs from somewhere between Heaven and Hell. I'd also like to think he has access to both; one for climate and the other for society. I know he'd be proud of me because I'm proud of me.
"My Father, now in Heaven is a keeper of the birds. And his eye is on his sparrow." Don Williams, Jr.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Burning Bridges, Falling Down, Falling Down, Falling Down.....

What is it with people saying they don't "burn their bridges?" When you leave a job or a relationship of any kind, I'm here to tell you - - that bridge is burned whether you know it or not. Whatever delusion you might be under that the other person or persons who loved you or worked with you still feel the same way about you are, at best, wishful, and, at worst, just plain wrong.

I met up with a woman I used to work with because she had something I needed. Otherwise I wouldn't have been caught dead with her out in public. You will understand why as you read along. She "retired" from that fine establishment after threatening to do so for about seven years. It was always going to be "two years from now, I'm outta here!" And that's how it went for seven years, so something got screwed up because seven is not divisible by two. The new math, perhaps?

Let's call her Martha, after Martha Stewart. She was talented; a gifted crafter and baker, but so f--king annoying, so cloying and pawing for attention for her skills that you couldn't help but hate her just a little or a whole goddamned lot. I think that's how most people feel about Martha Stewart. She couldn't even go to jail without getting all kinds of attention, and making a killing off some other inmate's crocheted poncho. It's one thing to steal from the rich, you bitch, but to steal from another inmate? That's low.

So, Martha told me at breakfast that she liked to visit the old haunt on a regular basis. She went to see her many friends because after all she worked there for nine million years and she just couldn't walk away from them. She loved them and they loved her and it was such a treat. Wow-zer. I gotta say, folks, this barely passed the straight-face test for me.

Having worked for attorneys for so long, I am very good at keeping a dead pan expression on my face because I had to. A man once told me he had great pain from a "genital defect in his back," and a woman told me that she suffered from "a detached rectum in her eye." In both cases I was forced to repeat back to these sad, sad Darwinian failures the words "CON-genital" and "re-TINA" so they would not repeat those phrases to anyone else. Though judging from the gene pools these folks frolicked in, I doubt anyone else in their circle of friends had ever noticed the misstep.

Anyhow, Martha's chirping along about our mutual past job, and she was just there, how I deserved to be let go if couldn't get along with so-and-so, that she put up another stunning quilted rooster wallhanging, and that everyone seemed SOOOO happy to see her..................... I'm sorry? What did you say, you malevolent, girdle-wearing, piggy-eyed, gopher-toothed, over-permed, pidgeon-bodied, ass-kisser? Did she have the nerve to say I deserved to be let go because I couldn't get along with the objet-du-suc' mah dik sum dey'? Cest' wat ler fuk? I just "mmm-hmmd" and smile-smirked and kept on eating my breakfast. I was thinking back to the multitude of heinous comments that followed her leaving from the bosses on down and how she didn't even suspect. She was the object of constant ridicule for her rigid work habits and her general demeanor (and her girdle), even though she was good at her very complicated job. She was the A-Number-One ass-kisser, tattle-tale for all those years and she made a lot of enemies. The bridge she thinks she hasn't burned was torched the second she left by all of her so-called "friends."

Fridtjof Nansen said, "I demolish my bridges behind me, then there is no choice but forward." He was an esteemed Norwegian scientist, explorer and diplomat, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922, among other awards and honors. He was the first person to ski across Greenland. Skied across Greenland, in case you didn't read that fully. Check him out on Wikipedia. He was a remarkable man, and that's a remarkable and curious quote for someone with his life. By today's standards, it seems impossible to believe that bridge-burning and successful diplomacy could go hand in hand, doesn't it? Perhaps Nansen believed in himself and his works to such an extent that his magnetism kept the best people right behind him, also marching forward and not caring if the bridges were burned? Maybe he stood alone, but by the look of his biography and his pictures, I would proffer he wouldn't have noticed if people thought him arrogant or foolish. He was brilliant, brave and a humanitarian of the age.
"My land is bare of chattering folk, the clouds are low along the ridges and sweet's the air with curly smoke from all my burning bridges." Dorothy Parker
Isn't that a great quote by the Queen of Demean? I say that with respect, as Dorothy Parker is a folk hero of women, in my estimation at least. She spoke her mind and no doubt sparked off more than her fair share of bridges. I've been accused of being a bridge burner by Toughy, my attorney pal. That's no lie and I'm far from insulted. Would I want to return to any job I've ever had? Any relationship? (Now there's a line-up I don't want to see!!!)

A pal of mine, I'll call Solana, meaning "sunshine" says "Bloom where you are planted." That reminds me of my voluptuous gardens, and hers which are next door to me. The wind carries seeds everywhere and each spring she and I try to figure out what's where and why, what to pull and keep, having to wait and see in many cases until bloom-time just what we have in our respective plots and spots. Sometimes if we just leave them, we get weeds that we've babied all summer. But more often than not we are rewarded with a luscious patch of fragrant yellow primrose or some other stunning revelation. All for a little patience and faith.

That's how I feel about burning bridges, that sticking to what was doesn't let the future bloom. I believe God or Allah or Buddah or whoever floats your Cosmic Boat can't get to you unless there's curly smoke in the air signaling release of the past.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

When I Was Seventeen, It Was a Sucky, Sucky Year... was a sucky, sucky year for finding a job,
Cuz I'd never work'd a lick,
And these people were dicks,
No one to hire the likes of me,
When I was seventeen...

And now I'm forty-five,
And it's a sucky, sucky year,
It is a sucky, sucky year for some one like me,
With a kick ass resume,
They send me on my way,
They know I'll want THEIR job,
You bet your sweet ass they're right,
Cuz now I'm forty-five....
I used to find that song very sad back in the day. It's even sadder now that I've completely slaughtered it.... Alas, I wasn't even a twinkle in the old man' eye when it was written in 1961, but I remember it playing on the radio and on Merv Griffin. But, I LIKE my version; it's more 21st century, more Bush-o-nomics era. It fits the ten percent unemployment decade doesn't it? Yeah I know what you're thinking, but it's not Obama's fault. He got handed the keys to a burned out economy with a slap on the back from ol' Georgie boy sneaking a "Hey Dick, duck hunting much?" sign onto his coat.

This is my problem now. No one wants to hire me and it's the reverse of the problem I had when I graduated from high school a "few" years ago. (Ahem.) My resume's big. I can't hide the fact that I'm a go-getter, that I'm confident, a people-person, and intelligent. My husband offered to help me with that by showing me several facial constructs I could adopt when I walked in but I declined. You've all seen them on the Three Stooges so that's all I'm going to say about that.

I should have been more like a recent ex-co-worker of mine with a less than stellar resume. Being over-qualified for something is certainly not one of her biggest concerns. Her resume reads like this: bartender, shop clerk, factory assembly worker, bartender, shop clerk, waitress, hostess, bartender, Professional Person. Ta DAH!!! Ain't no one afraid of this chick busting through any glass ceilings any time in the future. She doesn't scare anyone with her talent; only when she turns around and you thank God it's not a dark alleyway at midnight. Anyhow, I bet she can mix a mean cosmopolitan or make change for a twenty in two seconds flat. Quite ironically, she probably could have gotten either of the two jobs for which I just interviewed, which makes me feel pretty good. She's got something I'll never have: zero expectations of greatness.

I didn't want those jobs; I just wanted to be "wanted."It's a product of being unemployed, feckless, living in my pajamas (and liking it more than just a little bit) for more than three months now. But, it's not "right," this kind of life. Is it? I feel I am productive. I'm trying to write this book in my head onto paper. I also blog.......and it will pay-off somehow, someday. The house is clean, the laundry is all done. I prepare delicious and thoughtful meals every night like mustard pork with homemade spaetzle or potato crust chicken pie with a tarragon cheese sauce, and homemade biscuits. Tonight is cumin-laced meatloaf with butter-laced mashed russet potatoes with green beans. (I'll tell you a secret: there is butter in everything now!!!) Luscious desserts, like pecan sweet bread, chocolate chip banana bread and sweet potato pie are waiting to make us (me) fatter. The big ol' woodstove is cranked up and the whole house toasty warm, like 85 degrees warm. Yeah baby!!!

How would it be if I were back at work? The house would be clean enough and warm enough. No desserts except for store-bought cookies or candy. The laundry would be manageable. Hubby would have to rush home like always and scrounge dinner onto the table, something quick. I'd get home at 5:30 if I was lucky, big dark circles under my eyes again. I'd have the residual shakiness from my caffeine addiction of no less than ten cups of regular coffee and yucky fast food roiling in my gut from lunch. I'd be just shaking off the "irritated beyond belief" sensation from whatever horseshit I took from "whoever" all day long. Driving lots of miles a day in good and really bad weather on winding, narrow island roads engineered by drunken pirates. Now I remember why I love my pajamas more than my work.

The late, great George Carlin said, "Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit." I really like that quote and it is sadly the truth. But it never applied to me. I worked my ass off because that was how I was raised by my Depression-era parents. And I was never paid enough to not quit... OBVIOUSLY.

Still I struggle with the construct of working at a "real" job vs. sort of working, trying to work at home, trying to build a writing life while keeping my sanity and assure my husband of "something" I still can't define or put a price tag on. But, he truly believes in me and knows my tenacity of spirit. He's even seen my tenacity...'nuf' said.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Gotta dumb it down doobie doo down dow-own....

...dumba dumba down doobie doo down dow-own, dumb my resume down, doobie doo down dow-own -- findin' work is hard to-ooh ooooh do!!! bum bum bum bum bum buuuuum.....

Wow. Went for another interview yesterday, only this one was different from the last. I had zero expectations of getting this job. Zee-roh. It was for a file clerk position, only temporary; 24 hours a week for twelve weeks. Luckily for me, the interviewer was funny and hip with really cool dark lavender glasses. Let's call her "Elelta." It's a name that means "laughter." She was bright, pretty and sincere.

Elelta and I chatted for awhile and she told me all TWO things I'd have to do in this job and asked me about my qualifications. It think it was agonizing for both of us really. After we got through these preliminaries I just knew I could speak my mind, so I said, "you're not going to hire me for this job are you?" She laughed and said no. I already knew the answer and knew she would tell me the truth. We had been laughing and chatting the whole time, not much of an interview really; more like new friends meeting for the first time.

Elelta relayed with some frustration how they received resumes from people with masters degrees applying for these piddley-assed jobs (my description, not hers) and how she just couldn't even interview them. It would be like trying to hire a down-and-out Albert Einstein to flip burgers at McDonalds. How do you interview a person who is more qualified than you are to do a job that is truly not worthy of their skill set and experience? I don't know the answer to that question.

So here I am today, trying to figure out how to dumb-down my resume. Pretend I don't have one at all? That may be my best bet. Until I go in for an interview and my face tells all and then I can't shut up and I reveal that I was lying all along just to get my foot in the door. Ha ha fooled you. Yes, I can find my way out, thank you very much for seeing me today. Sorry about the trickery. Please don't call the police....

Friday, December 11, 2009

Not So Much Free As Loose....

Annie Dillard said her father had a dream of spending a summer riding a river barge on the Mississippi. When he found the time, the reality sent his dream to hell. The days were long and tedious, with no one to talk to but dull-witted river men. He had hoped to experience a "Tom Sawyer" kind of freedom, realizing he was "not so much free, as loose." Me, I am loose. Loose as a goose freed by truce from a noose in a spruce by a sluice made of juice that a moose bought from Jews wearing puce in a caboose. Okay I'll stop, but not because I have to.

Most people are hard-wired to work, to do something each and every day. Certainly we're not meant to sit around in our pajamas, swilling Southern Pecan decaf with soy milk until lunchtime, tapping out a dumb, self-serving blog? Or cram into a recliner next to a cranked-up woodstove in our pajamas, swilling now-cold-and-disgusting-decaf with soy milk handwriting a childrens book on a pink-papered legal pad? I'm not even really ashamed to be seen in my pajamas anymore. My husband's grown kids are now pretty used to seeing me any time of day in them, along with the next door neighbors, and the UPS man. To my credit, I am always showered, hair semi-done, lipstick on, with my diamond earrings in place. That counts for something doesn't it? Pajamas, Lipstick and Diamonds. Didn't Peggy Lee record that sultry refrain?

Greg Levoy wrote in his book, "Callings:"
"Last year I saw a movie called City of Angels. It opens in the emergency room of a hospital where a little girl has just died, and the camera slowly pans away from this scene until we're looking down a long corridor in the hospital, with a light at the far end. The little girl is walking down the corridor, toward the light, holding hands with an angel played by Nicholas Cage.
Halfway down the hallway, the angel turns to her and asks, "So, what did you like best about it?" Meaning life. And the girl says "Pajamas!" I've posed this exact same question to several thousand people in the last year in my "Callings" workshops; asked them to imagine that they're walking down The Corridor toward the proverbial light, holding hands with an angel-----or with Nicholas Cage if they prefer-----and the angel asks them what them liked best about it.

Not one person has ever said work."

This was a giant quote, but I feel strongly about Greg Levoy's book and his wisdom. I've owned this book and audio book since it was published in 1997. He was wise enough to quote from many masters throughout his writing. I've listened to his audio book so often over the last twelve years that now it crawls to a near mumble toward the end of the tape. But I almost know it by heart at this point and can speak it right along with him in some places.

Can I do it? Can I live it? Can I, as he says, "walk the talk?" I think I'm getting there. I know I love my pajamas more than I loved my work and I know that's progress.

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Hope is the thing with feathers,...

...that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without words, and never stops at all." Emily Dickinson

I hope to reach a conclusion today, and arrive at sanity but I fear it's more than a day trip.

Since talking over my ambivalence with my husband regarding taking a job that I feel is "beneath my skill set and pay requirements," my mind is unsettled and my legs vibrating under my desk like tongs on a tuning fork. He informed me in no uncertain terms that he has done much work for little money when the situation called for it........[insert gigantic pause]....and these times were not few and will be again [now insert man scowling at the television.]

My darling husband has little, actual point of reference here. He's always called his own shots, having never applied for any job anywhere. He's either been a carpenter, sought out by others, or he's fished, dug clams and worms or picked periwinkles. Mother Nature is his boss, and he answers to her. He complains about her like a real employer, damning her for too much wind or rain, when either of those things cramp his style. But she favors him as he always returns to me from his sea voyages. He delights in coming home to tell me how giant waves came "right over the boat today" and "sometimes all you could see was water on all sides." She's no small boat either at 42' feet long, 18' feet wide; a Nova Scotia or "Novi" hull with a riding sail. Built to take "it," he says. He's very proud of his girl.

Friedrich Nietzsche said, "One must separate from anything that forces one to repeat 'No' again and again." Ah, that has been my mantra since the brightness of the interview wore off. As a matter of fact, I've refused several jobs for this same "No" my not-so-inner jackass brayed when it saw my potential working conditions. I knew I wouldn't be able to function and would soon seek my own undoing as I have done again and again.

Is this ego? Am I too good to do certain work? No, it's not about being too "good." I would rather shovel manure in a cow barn than sit behind a sliding glass window. At least I would be doing something for the cows out in the fresh air, no pantyhose required, no lipstick, no mascara; no mask whatsoever. I think environment says everything about the kind of work a person will be expected to perform. The more a place looks like a jail cell, the more a prisoner you are. I once visited an old jail here on the Midcoast. The cells were carved from solid rock. I'll never forget the feeling of me, at 5'3", having to stoop well down to walk into those dark and fetid rooms. I am reminded of those cells whenever I am shown the kind of environment I saw at that interview. They don't show you the leg chain until after you agree to work there.

As I look around my home office I am more than pleased to work here. I've painted it a color called "Wanderlust," a lush dark blue periwinkle color; my shelves are painted "Pink Adobe." Off-white berber rugs and lacy curtains in the windows. A honey-birch desk that my husband made is tucked into the corner. All my paintings, framed certificates, favorite poems, funny cartoons and memorabilia are posted here and there around me. Abalone, oyster and hen clam shells gathered on the shores of Prince Edward Island fill my ginger jar desk lamp. Pens shaped like red poppies and ladybugs sit in flowered handmade pottery cups given to me as a wedding present. My beagle and shepherd snore, sprawled behind me on the floor. One kitty lies behind the computer in the sunshine; the other watches the cursor on the screen with great fascination. This is not a huge space, but I don't have to stoop to enter and there is no leg chain. There is but a spiritual tether to keep me grounded.

Toni Morrison said, "If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." I have a book in mind, but the blank white page stymies me as it has thousands of others before me, and millions ahead of me. Onward...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Working Stiffs

I think I just got the meaning of "working stiff" as I wrote it. The working a/k/a walking dead? Sorry to say, I'd agree for most of my life I was a working stiff and working "stiff." Hey, I must be accepting this path I'm on!

"One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important," said Bertrand Russell. I felt my work and my position were vital. Truly vital. [Sigh] In truth, I realize it was just an amoeba's pisshole in the Cosmic Snowbank of Life. I'm sure by the following Monday, all traces of me were gone, the coup complete, and my effigy, ash. I'm also sure that all decorum is lost and the standards have slipped sufficiently that no one like me will ever work there again.

Now I work here, at home, trying my best to write my best. Pondering my next move on the keyboard, delving the depths of my forgotten knowings, I'm awake every second. Getting the day-to-day out of the way, laundry, vacuuming, dishes, or cooking; it never stops being about the writing. By day's end, after researching and reading more now than I have in years, I feel brain-tired for better reasons than I've ever known. Sir Roget and I are tight again and we're both pretty happy about it. Tennessee Williams wrote, "When I stop working the rest of the day is posthumous. I'm only really alive when I'm writing."

As seemingly trivial as this blog has been, it is a launching pad for what lies within. Every thing starts somewhere; the first blotch of paint, the tap of the chisel, pen to paper. Do I possess any talent? Sure I do, but the only way I'll ever know for sure is to tell Houston I'm a go, light the fuse and fearlessly blast into the unknown.

"Work while you have the light. You are responsible for the talent that has been entrusted to you." Henri Frederic Amiel

Saturday, December 5, 2009

When the Music Changes, So Does the Dance

The title of this blog is from a proverb. Simple, direct and to the point. How unlike me? I don't like the music I'm hearing right now and I don't want to dance. It's rap and I don't like rap. It goes like this: "You gotta take a job, you're a big lazy slob. The pay's gonna suck, but you gotta make a buck. Yo Yo!! You're a gerbil, not a fox, gonna put you in a box, make you run, for their fun, pay you shit when you're done. Hey y'aaaalllll!!" This song bites my burgeoning ass.

Anyhow, my interview yesterday was great. I was witty, smart, interesting, and motivated. Allegra, the interviewer, was a straight shooter, and I believe she liked me. In fact, she was great and someone I'd like to work with, as an equal. I even got "the tour" of the facility where I'd be working should I get this job. She gave me the whole run-down on what I could expect, why the other girl didn't work out, salary ($10.50 an hour.......say what?!), working conditions. We laughed, chatted, and she thought my resume was kick-ass, which it IS. In attending a career workshop several weeks ago, I was informed that my resume was an antique. It is now revamped to run the rigors of the big biz computer scanner, ensuring ID of all key words like "ass kisser," "tattle tale," etc.)

The problem? I took one look at the gerbil cage I'd be working in and I felt my not-so-inner jackass starting to shuffle around and mumble obscenities under its breath. It wasn't that the working environs weren't absolutely nice, the other girls appearing friendly, even hinting at being sarcastic, funny bitches like myself, which I would thoroughly enjoy. I just wondered if I could ever reconcile my Self to how mindless this job would be, while still traveling the same miles a day for a shitload less than I was making at my last job. Only here I would trapped behind a desk and sliding glass window, numbing along at work that I could do with half my brain tied behind my back. Total Recoil. I had this job already. Twenty-six years ago. I didn't like it then. I'm going to hate it now.

Then I got a gander at the "job description," all four lines of it. I noticed a typo in this burdensome narrative, which I considered to be a very bad omen. These are the duties: register patients, answer phones, schedule appointments, collect and distribute mail. On page two I see that "while performing the duties of this job [I may be] frequently exposed to risk of electrical shock." Well, thank Christ. I daresay I'd praying for death before too long and electrocution would be a quick and easy solution. Actually this made me laugh right out loud and Allegra still seemed to like me, even after my inappropriate outburst. I wonder if she would have still liked me if I'd pointed out the typo??? Mmmmm? I don't know.

I have nothing to worry about. Allegra will get some nice person in to interview and forget all about me. I have a big personality and a big resume, and she's no dummy. I wouldn't hire me for this job. I'd be afraid of me and what I might say and do down the road, how much anarchy I'd incite, or how quickly I'd be eyeing her job for myself. While this makes me a little sad, the truth is I'd rather be me than most people.

I've had my own sort of "thing," called the shots, been virtually autonomous, and I liked it. I don't know where to go from there. My dear friend, Suzy always says, "Confusion is a state of grace; do nothing." Good advice.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Would You Like To Swing on a Star?

I'd say I'm finally swingin' on that star, takin' moonbeams home in a jar, and be better off than I are, but would I rather be employed? Thank you Bing, thank you very much. How's that for a song virus that won't leave your head? Or would you rather be a mule? A mule is an animal with long floppy ears, that kicks up at anything he lah lah la la la la lah lah laaaah.........brutal isn't it?! I put a song virus in here for those of who are susceptible because I was actually singing in the shower this morning for the first time in I don't know how long. I was singing Rosemary Clooney's version of "Mangoes" from her "16 Biggest Hits" CD. This song was recorded back in 1956 and spent 16 weeks on the charts at number ten. It's an intoxicating little ditty. You can check it out on YouTube.

George Santayana wrote,
"A string of excited miscellaneous fugitive pleasures is not happiness; happiness resides in imaginative reflection and judgment, when the picture of one's life, or of human life, as it truly has been or is, satisfies the will and is gladly accepted."
Now that I've shrugged off this burdensome, smelly hide that labeled me and told me and the rest of the world what I was and what I did, I feel renewed. I realize I am happy, and have been all along in this beautiful world I live in, the house I share with my truest love, this place I've always known was "home."

I've gotten back in touch with my love of cooking and domesticity in general. I'm going to find it very difficult to leave this behind and adopt a new work persona and title, because I cherish this trusted and ancient way of living. I'm baking bread on a Wednesday because I have time and because I embrace the sensuousness of flour and wonder still at the miracle of risen dough. Or I'm walking the dogs at 10 a.m. instead of rushing them up and down the road before work, yelling at them to go faster when all they want to do is experience nature like I should be doing, sniffing the air and mocking the crows. This is me, always was me, and will forever be me.
"The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves." Carl Jung