Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fingers Crossed!

Well, I’ve put a deposit down to lease a townhouse in Colorado! I am so excited, I can barely contain myself. I hope my application is approved; it should be, but there are no guarantees. I’ve got my fingers crossed.

This was a little exercise in confronting something I recently read in Oprah magazine that was talking about mindset:
“The primary fact of life for just-in-case processes is: "Everything good is scarce!" By contrast, just-in-time systems rely on the assumption "Everything good is readily available."”

I was seriously not wanting to incur any additional costs with this move, and yet I really want to live in a nice place. Part of my self that said “Be Careful! Save Money!” was at war with the part that said “Go after what you really want! You deserve it!” This kind of internal argument is not new for me, but I haven’t tackled anything big in a while. This is where I’m going to be living. This is big.

What surprised me while I was observing this inner conflict is that I saw how large a part of the dilemma was based on fear:
Fear that the place I want won’t be available when I need it (the scarcity issue).
Fear that I won’t be able to afford it (my money will run out before I get back into a good job).
Fear that I might be repeating old mistakes (being impulsive rather than smart).

And in a dark little corner of my mind, the shadowy thought that I might be reaching too far – too far beyond my “place.” This townhouse has amenities I haven’t had before. Do I deserve to live like that?

Just knowing that this dark little piece of the past is still lurking in my subconscious was enough to push me toward a decision. Out of all of the places that I’ve looked at – and I think I started looking last October – this one is the one that I really want. So I decided to pursue that which I really want, instead of ‘settling before I’ve even started.”

I’m holding my breath.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tea for two

I am extremely fortunate. I am reminded of this often.

I only have the one ex-husband, and having been put “off” marriage by that special experience, my sweet baby is technically what is charmingly referred to as a bastard. I owe such a tremendous debt of gratitude to every single soul who went before me who worked for social change so that I could live the life I do. I am in awe of the sacrifices that others have had to make so I haven’t.

My sweet girl has a daddy. We all used to live in the same house, and he changed diapers and all that. These days, we are on opposite coasts, but he’s in touch. My baby talks to her dad on the webcam once a week. For now, that is plenty. She has male relatives and friends, and so at this point, she is pretty well rounded. I make sure she gets to hang with our friend S as often as we can, not just because I like him so much and we have fun, but because he is a wonderful example of a man for my girl to be around.

I don’t have custody battles or fights over money. That is huge. Absolutely huge. And I know it. I support us and am fine with that role. I am not looking to change that. I am giddy with the prospect of living just the two of us in a few months.

I talk to several women friends about the traumas they have with their ex-husbands over their kids and I read several blogs that share similar stuff and I feel so very lucky that it worked out for me the way it did.

Once upon a time, I dreamed of having a nice, traditional family, but the universe saw fit to not only deny me a decent childhood, but hold that particular cookie out of my reach as an adult, too. And now that I have my daughter, and we are so happy, I can’t help but think I’m okay with it. You just never know what you’re going to get. What we’ve got is fine.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Colorado on my mind

I didn’t know any of them personally, and I am only connected by the randomness of geographical coincidence.

Ten years ago today 9/11 hadn’t happened yet. My daughter hadn’t yet been conceived. I lived in Jefferson County, Colorado, in a little brick house with my two black labs. I had just gone back to school to study Computer Science and was working a patchwork of part-time jobs. My life was hectic and absorbing and concentrated on overcoming some challenges that I’d been struggling with for many years. That was the year that I got my first real IT job, and though that year I only cleared about 18k, it led to finally getting a chance to work in a more professional capacity and away from the endless “service” sector kind of jobs that I had held until then.

I felt good about what I was doing, I was working toward something. That day I was glued to the TV and the phone. My friends and I were just stunned. I remember being irritated, though, by the folks who kept saying that it shouldn’t have happened there. I knew better. I knew that tragedy strikes when you aren’t looking, when you aren’t prepared, when you haven’t got a clue how to cope with it. I was a little girl when the rug was first pulled out from under me and everything changed.

It reminds me that I am actively working to get back there so that my daughter will begin her school years in that same county. I am glad that they’ve worked on their response policies and procedures. I’m glad there is more awareness. It won’t mean that nothing bad will ever happen, though.

I still can’t believe my daughter is really here, that she is so exactly what I always wanted, and that we have such a great bond. I don’t know what I’d do if something took her away from me, but I can imagine.

Ten years ago today I reaffirmed my belief that life is short. When 9/11 happened two and a half years later, I remember thinking again, “keep going.” Life is short.

I am going to voluntarily quit my job in the middle of a huge recession in ten weeks. I am going to stick to my plan and live this adventure. You just never know when things will change, and all you can do is experience as much joy and challenge and new stuff as you can while you can; I am sure that life has to be lived.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

yes, the Simpsons are inspirational, why do you ask?

I have a feeling, judging by how things have been going at work for the past couple days, that pretty soon I will be standing at the proverbial chalkboard, writing 50 times:

I will not instigate revolution
I will not get very far with this attitude
I will not dance on anyone's grave
This school does not need a "regime change" (substitute institution of your choice)

Thanks, Cary, for running this again. I needed it today in a baaaaaad way.

It is common wisdom that stressful times bring out the worst in the weakest people, so I am not surprised that this place resembles an old mining area after a good rain; full of sink holes.

Still. I find it ironic that my last few months here are turning out to be such a turbulent time for this department. Some of the manifestations are pretty funny; you just have to wonder what they were thinking. Of course, the current management is struggling to deal with the radioactive fallout, not giving anyone a very secure feeling.

I am spending far too much time surfing the interwebs, but it helps me to find funny things to keep my perspective. I do, after all, only have (excluding some scheduled days off) 48 days left here.

Yes, I counted.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Jesus loves me...

I had another post entirely in mind, but in the meantime, a rather annoying and stupid thing has happened that makes me want to write about it instead.

As I’ve mentioned, I am in the final throws of my bachelor’s program in English. I am finishing it online. Frankly, with a full time job, a long commute, and a young child, there is no way I could be doing this otherwise. For the most part, I like the flexibility of the hours, the lack of schlepping back and forth, and the efficiency of taking classes online. What I hate, and have had to contend with in almost every class, is the (mostly) young, uneducated, and earnestly Christian student who finds it necessary to announce their beliefs in the class forums in ways that are not only inappropriate, but obnoxious and irrelevant, too.

This last one was a doozy. I had replied to a long-time fellow student about his interpretation of Dante’s Essay, and this little girl stepped in and went off on me because she felt I had personally attacked her religious beliefs and “intentionally hurt her feelings.” So many times, my first response is wanting to ask “Are you five?” Because that is how she sounded. However, I calmly replied to her and tried to state that not only had I not been personal – at all – in my post, but that I was criticizing the reading of a text, and that she had missed my point. Of course, she attacked my character, called me “mean,” (oh, snap!) and got herself really worked up about how I should not mock religion. It went on for a while.

Where do these stupid little nutjobs come off using every forum as a chance to proselytize and make sweeping judgments about what god thinks and wants? Do they not realize that most of the world is not living in the Khristian Kids Summer Kamp they seem to live in, and not see the world in such simplistic and linear terms? That we give a shit what they think? That we appreciate a good intellectual debate being hijacked by the God Patrol? That college class discussion boards are the place to make new Friends and hold hands and sing “Kumbaya”?

Not to mention their utter lack of knowledge of world history or literature, or the background of so many of the current political and social problems we face today.

Plus, she just pissed me off. If we’d been in class, one good raised eyebrow and withering sarcastic comment would have shut her up. Online, she feels free to let her “I’m a dumbass” flag fly. She needs to take her shit back to the junior high girls’ bathroom where it belongs, where she’d have gotten her ass kicked.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Skip Dreams

When I am feeling particularly stressed out, I have Skip dreams.

Once upon a time, a very long time ago, I was married to a man named Skip. He had a real name, but few people knew what it was and he never used it. Our relationship began when I was very young, ignorant, and still living with my parents. I really, really wanted to get out of the house, so moving in with Skip seemed like a good idea. I was a dumb kid.

I wanted to get a divorce for a long time before I finally did, and by the time we parted I was such a mess that I was having near hallucinations. When he moved out, I started having bad dreams that he was back.

When I have Skip dreams these days, it signals to me that I am much more upset about things than I am aware of. The funny thing right now is that I am fully tuned in (or so I thought) to just how uncomfortable, unhappy, and anxious for change I am, and am doing everything in my power to make good things happen. I have so many irons in the fire at this moment, I could burst into flames.

Dreaming about Skip is just unfair. He wasn’t abusive in a physical way, he was passive aggressive and was like a PhD program in manipulation. He did things just to drive me crazy and took delight in pushing my buttons. He was terribly dependent and unmotivated, sneaky and untrustworthy, and chemically addicted. He was also smart, funny, and could be tender and kind. His life was a series of disasters that he never saw coming. I was always taking care of things, cleaning up after him, and running myself ragged. We spent eight years together before I finally divorced him and he pretended he was wounded.

That was twenty years ago. I dreamed about him the other night, and as always, once I woke up it took a while for my brain to remember that. It is unsettling to revisit; it makes me kind of jumpy for a few days.

As I look out the window at the rain falling, I am thinking about how much I am looking forward to moving on.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Feeling separated

I really hate feeling separated from something that I chose to be a part of. This is one of my issues, I guess, from being a kid growing up in a crazy dysfunctional home, and never feeling like I belonged to anything that was positive. What kind of blows me away is that it never really leaves. There is always this little kid inside me, kind of standing to one side, observing everything that happens, and feeling bad about the stuff we can’t have.

The email announcing Fall registration for my kid’s daycare. We won’t be registering this year, because we won’t be here come Fall. Even though it is a move that I want, I hate leaving this group of women and children that we’ve been with and have been such an important part of M’s development. They’ve been supportive and kind and good to M and to me. They listen to my rantings and my stories and even though they probably think I’m a little nuts, they don’t say so. We know everyone and they know us.

I haven’t had that a lot in my life, and I don’t take it for granted. I want my daughter to feel accepted and part of the communities that she lives in. I hope I will be able to establish us in something similar when we move. It isn’t always easy for single moms or single women, for that matter. Some people view you as a threat (As if you are there to steal their men!) when all you really want is to have them know your name and be nice to you.

I’ve been told that I come off as very confident, but I am still just a girl, hoping that the other kids won’t hurt me, wanting to get through the day.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Corporate Life in this Recession

I wonder what it is like in other companies right now. This one is so skewed by factors such as:
☺ The business requirements are subject to State legislation, not commercial profit and loss models.
☺ After being a department with an organization since its inception, we are now subcontractors to the organization – they are now our “customer.”
☺ Our previous Director was completely consumed with winning the bid to put in a new, modern system to replace the old mainframe system we have. Once it became clear that the system replacement wasn’t going to happen, she left. Everything that a Director should have been paying attention to during her tenure – the business, the employees, management – was neglected and left to staff without qualifications and with their own agenda
☺ We now have a stable of old, tired workhorses that don’t have a lot left in them, several burnt-out overachievers that should have moved on a few years ago and are now suffering, and many good employees who have been trying to just do their jobs and are getting swept down the drain with the rest.

The organization just announced they are planning on laying off 102 more employees starting July 1st. As if things weren’t dismal already!

The next three months are my last here, and look like they are going to be some of the worst. I am seriously looking forward to not having a job, simply because this one is so laden with tension, acrimony, uncertainty, and the left-overs of mismanagement that it is painful. The mistakes made in the last several years have come back to roost.

Is it like that everywhere right now?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

First be who you really are

“Often people attempt to live their lives backwards; they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do, in order to have what you want.”

This statement made me ponder how I have lived my life. Certainly, I spent a great deal of time in my younger years trying to accumulate the trappings I thought I was supposed to have. Lately I have faced blame for having been in over my head with my financial obligations, primarily from my parents, who helped me by giving me money and cosigning my mortgage when I was younger.

The part they don’t talk about is that they did this with full knowledge of my (then) husband’s lack of employment stability and a pretty fair idea of his general lack of character. Add to this that I had debt at the time and was only making about $16000 a year. There was no way we could afford the house we bought and when we divorced a few years later I was even less able to manage the burden. But I thought I had to. I struggled for years, miserable and flailing around making things worse, thinking I was a failure, trying on my own and without a clue how things really worked, to fulfill my responsibilities.

What they also don’t talk about is how strongly they stressed the “you made your bed, now lie in it” philosophy, which they conveniently promoted along with the unsaid “do as I say and not as I do” credo. Not to mention the crazy abusive home they raised us in and the way that added to and aggravated my situation.

Which is to say – how come a young 25 year old with a dental assisting job and a looming divorce is solely to blame, but a couple of college graduates in their 50s with so much more experience are not equally responsible for creating this mess?

I am nearing the age they were then, and I would not loan my daughter money when she clearly wasn’t managing what she already had, and I would not help her get further in debt by helping her sign up for a mortgage she couldn’t afford. They always say that they did the things they did because they loved us. It isn’t that simple, and it wasn’t that clean. They were always happy to take credit for my successes and assign blame for my failures, and never acknowledge that they had a part in anything. They will never concede that just like helping someone commit a crime is called being an accessory, they were as complicit as the banks in helping me take on a financial obligation I had no hope of meeting, and probably everyone but me knew it at the time.

I no longer accept all the responsibility for not being able to magically turn things around. My ex-husband walked away without a scratch, my parents’ loss was pretty minimal in the long run, and me? I have three more years until I can really put it all behind me and I will likely never be able to make up the loss. All those years of having two and three jobs at a time, taking roommates, and taking classes to further my education and training did a lot to make me a stronger person, but not a richer one. I worked hard and rearranged it so that the debt was in my name alone, protecting them from themselves. Yes, I screwed up, but I also paid dearly for profoundly bad advice, manipulation, and even some fraud. I learned every single thing the hardest way possible.

It’s funny, but I became a lot happier once I quit worrying about disappointing everyone and finally faced the grim, stark reality of my situation. It is liberating to live in the real world. That is something my parents will never understand. Whatever happens from now on will be better, no matter how it turns out, because my decisions are no longer based on desperation. And that is a wonderful thing.