Decided to reactivate after a 2-year hiatus. I may keep this up, but maybe not. I have choices. We all have choices. Every day.
Finally trying to finish Finding Your Own North Star because it’s due at the library, and I can’t renew it again and I know I should just buy my own copy, but as you know, I’m too cheap for that. So, after 2 days of on-an-off speed reading, I finally finished it. I think the biggest takeaway right now was the discussion of the change cycle, specifically the first step (or Square One), which is “death and rebirth.” There are three ways one can get to this spot: 1) shock, 2) opportunity and 3) self-imposed transition. Right now, I’m clearly in the #3 category, having self-imposed my unemployment and SAHM status. I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but I still feel like I’m floundering around with no firm plans; I’m second-guessing my decision; I’m tired of people not understanding how I feel.
Martha says that “transition events are even more likely to cause social disruption – and intense self-doubt – than opportunities. When you change your whole life because of inner yearning, frustration or excitement, there’s no external force or prize to help other people accept your behavior…. You’ll be more fraught with indecision than people who receive shocks or opportunities. The fear of failure will be tremendous. There may also be shame, as you let go of your old status, income, or position in exchange for nothing but inner peace…. Welcome to the middle of nowhere. Since you’ve lost your old identity but haven’t really embraced a new one, you’re temporarily a kind of nobody. As old relationships and behaviors change, you’ll have no one to cling to, and nothing to do. Nobody nowhere with no one and nothing. Doesn’t that sound fun!”
So, here I sit, nobody in nowhere-land. And it’s not fun. But, reading this passage did reinforce once again that I’M NOT CRAZY. Just transitioning.
I’ve always held a firm belief that I would make a terrible stay-at-home-mom. I haven’t the patience, creativity or energy for it. This has been confirmed now that I have spent two whole weeks as a SAHM. I now know why trapped animals chew their legs off.
I don’t know if it’s a function of my suddenly being home all day, but for some reason, my son wants me to be within a 2 feet radius of him at all times. It’s driving me crazy – I’m not his playmate, I’m his screaming, psychotic mother who can fly into a shrieking rage at any time. If I were him, I’d want to be at least 50 feet away at all times. I’m speculating that he’s performing some sort of behavioral experiment – observing me to see how long it takes for me to go over the edge. Right now, he’s actually watching TV while I’m writing this, and he seems OK with that. Maybe we’ve turned a corner, or maybe he’s just watching me out of the corner of his eye.
Let’s talk about that shrieking rage, shall we? I’m flying off the handle with random abandon. Some infractions deserve shrieking, like not flushing. COME ON PEOPLE, WERE YOU BORN IN A BARN? And “I forgot” is not an excuse. Are you telling me that zipping your fly is so all-consuming that you can’t remember to push the handle post-zip? Yes, it’s Miles that is the major violator. BC is smart enough to know that EXTRA LOUD SHRIEKING will occur should I discover a non-flush incident. I don’t even care about the seat up or down – that’s a battle not worth fighting, but flushing? Are you fucking kidding me? So while I’m on the subject, I’ll just rant a bit about public restrooms and how little flushing seems seems to occur. OK, I know a lot of toilets have the auto-flush feature, but IT ONLY WORKS ABOUT HALF THE TIME WHICH IS WHY THERE IS A BUTTON YOU CAN PUSH TO MAKE THE TOILET FLUSH. Are people so oblivious, or apathetic, or just stupid that they can’t flush a freaking toilet???
Phew, glad I got that out of my system.
I finally walked away from my job. And I feel… flat … and angry. I believed I’d walk out the door and everything would be in technicolor like it was for Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, but it’s not. In fact it’s quite the contrary. I feel more like I’m in Night of the Living Dead. The anger and resentment I’ve been carrying for so long is boiling inside of me. I’m trying not to play the victim, but it’s hard not to.
When I first entered Corporate America I thought I was smart and capable, and people would recognize that. That delusion didn’t last long, and I learned very quickly to suck it up, and get a thick skin. That’s why they call it work, I told myself. You should be lucky to have a job that pays so much for so little. Peers and family couldn’t see what the problem was. “Are you nuts? You’re getting paid to fill a cube. Who cares if your boss has the IQ of a toad and the only intellectual stimulation you get is deciding where to go for lunch? Get over yourself.” I would go along with this line of thinking for a while, but eventually a spark in my soul would try to burn its way out of the mind-numbing fog of Cubeville, and I would start to question what I was doing in this world that was obviously trying to kill me through boredom, oppression and mediocrity. And then the hands would reach out of the fog and pull me back in, and I’d start thinking it wasn’t so bad, and this cycle continued on for the better part of 20 years. Then, a miracle occurred. The company I was working for went into bankruptcy, and loads of people were riffed. I waited every day with giddy anticipation of being the next one tapped on the shoulder, handed a box and shown the door. Finally, I thought, I can get out of this hell-hole and blame it on the Company, because I can’t just walk away on my own – everyone would think I was crazy. Getting riffed would be the perfect solution. But as fate would have it, I survived.
More neurons died slow and painful deaths and I stared at my cube walls and dreamed of causing bodily harm to my boss. I would come out of my stupor long enough to pots around online, and one day, I ran across Pamela Slim’s book and blog, “Escape from Cubicle Nation.” I woke up. The book became my manifesto. It gave me permission to admit I was miserable, and that I wasn’t crazy for wanting to leave Corporate America even though I had an allegedly “good job.”
The part of the book that really hit home was the discussion of thawing out your soul. Slim basically says that some people were never meant to fit into corporate life, and they spend so much energy playing the game that they can no longer access their true emotions. Symptoms of this include:
Not being able to identify what makes them happy
A feeling of numbness and emptiness
A feeling of burning rage
A feeling of powerlessness and loss of self
A sense of loneliness and loss of direction
OOOHH, OOOHH, I wanted to yell when I read this part – this is me, this is me!!! And I’M NOT CRAZY!!! So by hook or by crook, I decided to escape. I just walked away.
But that’s as far as I’ve made it. Barely out the door, and the demons are clawing at the door of that chapter of my life I’m trying so desperately to close behind me. I feel totally, completely and utterly defeated by Corporate America. I finally cracked and they won. The waste of human capital continues unabated; intelligent, sensitive, caring, logical and yes, business-savvy, people are trampled upon by idiots, back-stabbers, and most of all, ass-kissers. Corporate America goes on its merry way, happy to be rid of one more thorn in its side who was smart enough to play the game but not dumb enough to drink the kool-aid.
Oh crap, I just realized like 3 more people actually looked at this blog, so now I have to write something. Oh god help me.
OK, here goes. I blew off a meeting today. That’s right, just totally did not go. Actually it was a conference call, and I DIDN’T CALL IN. Can you believe I would do something this brash and irresponsible? Of course I would, sillies. Because I had way more important things to do, like finishing my jigsaw puzzle (pictured below – sorry for the glare, just couldn’t get a good angle), signing my son up for swim class at the Y, yakking with my MIL, and figuring out what to make for dinner, and then going on the hunting gathering mission to make said dinner.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I am just totally uninspired about cooking. I mean, I really like to cook, but sometimes the ideas just don’t flow, like with this whole blog thing. Anyway, DH (I guess I should give him a name…. how about Miles? ) Miles told me that our local grocery had chicken leg quarters on sale for 59 cents a pound, and I’m like OK I’m there. We like legs! So I decide to make said chicken legs and go to the store and see that one must purchase a 10 pound bag. So, for the second time today, I threw caution to the wind AND BOUGHT A TEN POUND BAG OF CHICKEN LEG QUARTERS. No, I did not make all 10 pounds. Three on the grill and the rest in the freezer – I figure we can get at least 4 meals out of it – oh, and did I mention I’m cheap? So, BBQ it is. I make my own sauce – here’s the recipe which I got off of cooks.com at some point. We love it!
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. vinegar
2 T. oil
1/2 c. ketchup
3 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. dry mustard
1/2 t. pepper
Combine all ingredients and simmer 10 minutes.
Oh, and here are the promised pics of the puzzle.
I just had to share this post from Amalah.com, not for the part about the business trip, but for the photo below the fold. It reminds me of the time we lost Luke Skywalker’s head in the garbage disposal…
I was washing Luke because he had some sort of gross, sticky, day-old gunk on his head, and as I was giving him a good scrubbing, his head popped off, and I couldn’t find it anywhere, and my son was distraught, and OMG WHAT ARE WE DOING TO DO, and husband says why did you lose his head, like I did it on purpose, and it was just a complete fucking disaster, which we promptly forgot about 4.5 seconds later.
A few days after this horrific incident, I turned on the garbage disposal, and it made this GOD AWFUL noise, and literally ground to a stop. I’m thinking, oh great, now I’ve got to call the plumber, and how much is that going to cost, and so I search the internet like a fool getting all kinds of advice on how to unstick a garbage disposal, one technique apparently requiring a broomstick and a flame-thrower. So, just as I am about to capitulate to the agony of defeat and send several hundred dollars down the non-working drain, I finally have this most amazing thought – why don’t I take that rubber thingy that covers the drain out, so I can actually see into the disposal. WOW, I fucking amaze myself sometimes!
I don’t know if you’ve ever removed that rubber thingy, but OMG it is disgusting! I about hurl at the sight of this brown slime on the underside of that thing, but soldier on. I stick my hand down there (no, I don’t think we turned off the power, that would have been too logical) and try to move the blades without slicing off my fingers. They give a little, and then POP, out flies Luke’s head, which looks like, and smells like, it had been chewed on by a wampa. Husband, always helpful, says “way to go,” and not like “way to save us $100 for not having to call the plumber,” but like “way to go you fractured Luke’s skull.” Not being as creative as Amy with her juice straw light sabers, I retired Luke to the rest home for unrepairable toys. We did salvage his light saber though.
We went to an out-of-town wedding over the weekend. Actually, it wasn’t so much out-of-town, as out-in-the-country. Some excerpts from our trip:
Me: “Watch out for the Amish buggy!”
Husband: “My god, could these people drive any slower?”
Me: “My god, look at the traffic.” We pass two cars going in the opposite direction.
Me: “Watch out there’s a cop.” 45 seconds later: “Watch out there’s a cop.”
Husband: “Does this church have a bathroom?” Me: “No, protestant churches don’t have bathrooms.” (I guess some Catholic churches really DON’T have bathrooms.)
Husband: “I like these padded pews.”
Son, about a minute after we arrive at the reception hall, and about every 3 minutes thereafter: “Can we leave now?”
Aunt saying goodbye: “Sorry we can’t stay – we have to go pick up a horse.”
Observations regarding my son’s meal of exactly two bites of chicken, and five slivers of raw carrot salvaged from my salad: “Oh, is he a picky eater?”
Reception hall worker to guest who asked if he could have two pieces of chicken, “No.”
Actually, it was a very nice wedding, with a beautiful bride and a fine time had by all. Newlyweds are off to Niagara Falls for a frolic in the mist.
A colleague and I were commiserating on the sorry state of our imprisonment, and I mentioned that I had started this blog as a way to distract myself and keep my mind from rotting. Being much more industrious than I, he decided to take Candide’s advice literally, and plant a garden.
I’ve always loved that line, “we must [or let us] cultivate our garden.” I think the version I read many moons ago actually said, “let us tend our garden,” at least that’s how I remember it. Regardless of all the academic puffery that has been written about this quote, for me, it means that we need to get our own lives in order before we can help others, and to a certain extent, mind our own business. I become extremely irritated when I hear people complaining and vilifying and just generally being mean and curmudgeonly about either a) something or someone they have absolutely no control over so why do they even spend the energy worrying about it, or b) something they do have control over, but would rather sit around complaining about it than taking any action to improve the situation, because oh god, that’s just way too much effort.
Another quote I’ve always liked, since we’re on the subject, is “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” (That’s from the bible, believe it or not. I guess some information must have inadvertently lodged in my brain during all those torturous hours spent in Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Sunday Night Youth Bible Study, Wednesday Night Family Bible Study and Church Camp). Anyway, when I went through my divorce, it became very clear to me that everyone had opinions about my life (not sure why I was so shocked by this), and I’m certain everyone else’s lives within a twenty-mile radius. And I kept thinking that they had no idea what went on in my life or anyone else within a twenty-mile radius, so who were they to judge? I suppose that’s part of the reason I get so honked off by self-righteousness; at the end of the day, who cares? It’s not your life, and you don’t get to vote on it.
Am I tending my own garden? Or am I more like the curmudgeon who complains and yet does nothing? Or am I being too judgy? I must admit that some people in my life rub me the wrong way, and I have a hard time remembering that they too, have their own lives, and I have no idea what goes on there.
OK, I know this post isn’t earth shattering, but sometimes we just need a reminder. So I put this out there to the universe… help me not to vote on other people’s lives and just tend my own garden. It makes life so much simpler.
BTW… these are my neighbor’s peonies a few weeks ago before they lost their petals, or were deflowered, so-to-speak.
I am suffocating in a cloud of impending doom. I have to drive 1.5 hours to a stupid 1 hour meeting with a bunch of whiny, self-important people to discuss things I DON’T GIVE A FLYING FUCK ABOUT. Oh, but my corporate mind says, you have a company car with company-paid gas, so why do you care? Why do I care? Because the hours I spend on the road and in this STUPID MEETING are hours I can never get back again. They’re gone. Forever.
What do I really feel like doing today? For some weird reason I have this burning desire to go to JoAnn Fabrics, and just wander around all the pretty bolts of material and smell the new fabric smell, and look at pattern books. I don’t even have a working sewing machine right now, so where did THAT come from??
I remember… when I was in high school and out for the summer, I spent a ton of time sewing. I loved the sound of the machine and the hiss of the iron, and the fact that I could make a nearly invisible hem. In fact, in my third year of 4H I made a top that had a striped pattern that had to be matched at the shoulder seam, and that turned out just OK. But, at the judging, the judge couldn’t believe the quality of my hem, and I actually think she didn’t believe me that I had done it myself. But I had, and boy was I proud. I never really liked 4H much; I think it was too structured. But I loved picking out patterns and fabric on my own, and just working at my own speed, kind of potsing along with no deadlines or obligations, or even a good reason to be sewing clothes in the first place. We didn’t have air conditioning so the windows were always open and the dining room where I did all of the sewing had lots of windows and a screen door going to the back porch. For some reason, the morning air had a distinct smell and feel to it, and sometimes even now when the sun wakes me up and I feel that first touch of breeze from the open window, I am brought back to that dining room on a sunny day. I usually listened to the radio while I worked, and now, whenever I hear the song “Our House” by Madness (which played a lot back then), I am reminded of those almost dreamy days surrounded by thread, fabric, fresh air and freedom.
Wow, that was quite a tangent. I seriously think I’m losing my fucking mind.
I just completed one of the exercises in Martha Beck’s book, “Finding Your Own North Star,” which basically requires you to travel systematically through the sewer pipes of your memory and relive your most colossal screwups and cavort with your sworn enemies. Don’t forget to include physical symptoms like insomnia and chronic pain. Sounds fun, yes?
OK, so once you’ve tripped down memory lane gathering your market basket of mean people, fuckups and prescription pain killers, now you get to weave everything into your worst case scenario, which basically entails experiencing all of these unpleasantries all at the same time. Lovely – let’s go!
My Worst Case Scenario
I’m trapped in a standard-issue corporate cubicle, which just happens to be situated in my high school cafeteria, and I need to go to the bathroom (really badly in the worst sort of way, if you know what I mean), and I have a cramp in my foot and my shoulder feels like it’s on fire, and I am SO SO sleepy. I can’t get out of the cube because my fifth grade teacher, the fire-and-brimstone preacher from the church I was forced to go to as a child, and evil managers A, B and C, are blocking my way. They are discussing amongst themselves the stupidity of my decisions about college, majors, marriage, career and whatever else they can think of and have unanimously decided that I am basically a fuckup. All I want to do is sleep.
Then, they tell me that my new job assignment is to create a 200-slide Powerpoint presentation on “innovative companies,” which will involve benchmarking and compiling detailed financial data on private start-ups. I will have five minutes to present at an upcoming meeting of important male executives who just really want to know how all of this will affect their stock options and performance bonuses. For R&R, I’ve found out that I may leave my cubicle to attend a “revival meeting” at my parents’ church, which lasts four hours a night for the next three weeks.
Meanwhile, my co-dependent alcoholic coworker is texting me with messages like, “Let’s go 2 canada – $1 double shots of CC (aka Loopy Loonies),” and “$1 drafts @ H’s. free parking!” The phone rings and it’s my mother who wants me to immediately pack my bags and go on a guilt trip, and my husband, oblivious to the sorry state I’m in hands me a hot dog with ketchup. I want to scream at him, “After eight years of marriage, you can’t bother to remember what I like on my hot dogs?????,” but I don’t because I’m in the process of horking up four margaritas and a taco.
Wait, there’s more! The last part of the exercise is to imagine you’re in the situation described above (well, not this exact situation because yours will be different, but probably just as wacko) and THE PERSON YOU HATE THE MOST comes up to you and says (and this a quote from the book), “I admire you so much. Thank you for letting me be here. You are such a terrific person, and this is just what I deserve. I want to live this way for the rest of my life.”
Oh god. Are you kidding me? This is how I’ve bee living my life? This sucks. Royally.