Monday, April 26, 2010

Take me out to the ballgame!

About a month ago, my daughter’s school was selling tickets to a Rockies baseball game. I know as well as anyone that April weather is difficult to predict, but I love going to baseball games. My father used to take me to Giants games back in the days of Willie Mays, and I was so fond of these outings that I sported a Giants baseball cap as a kid and had a poster of Mays on my bedroom wall. Something about the slow pace of a baseball game and the traditions that go so far back is attractive to me and it is something I want to share with my daughter. Colorado has a beautiful stadium – Coors Field – that my father has gone to with me when he used to visit. I bought tickets to last Saturday’s game for my daughter and myself and hoped for the best.
Last week the weather turned foul, and Friday night the winds were so wild that I really wasn’t surprised when the rain turned to snow. I despaired, though, at the chances of even going to the stadium on Saturday. My friend Frank alerted me to the possibility of being able to attend an early game on Saturday when it turned out that they’d play a double header on Saturday to make up for the rainout on Friday. Saturday started out foggy and grey and it wasn’t until after noon that I was sure that we’d be able to go.

Miraculously, the sun came out and the day grew warm. M and I walked from our parking spot downtown toward the stadium and tapped into the excitement of the crowd as we got closer. We had put on our matching purple turtlenecks and jeans, not knowing how cold it would turn out to be. M’s eyes were big and she took in all the concessions and crowd and the big expanse of green field as we walked along the perimeter of the stadium to find our seats. We stopped to listen to the children’s choir sing the National Anthem, and quietly took in the rest of the crowd being respectful. I am proud of Colorado in times like this; folks here are staunchly independent, but also show respect for the time-honored traditions like respect for the ceremony of the flag.

Our seats – firmly in the “cheap stands” – were in the sunniest spot in the stadium, and due to all the confusion of the weather and the rescheduling, we had the row almost to ourselves. We got some cotton candy for M and some beer for me, and we settled in for our first baseball game. We clapped and cheered and followed the prompts to participate. M was happy and excited, especially when a second grader from her school and his family took their seats next to us and he recognized her. They chattered happily throughout the game.

I was able to relax and enjoy myself in a way that I haven't really had the opportunity to do in a while.  It all seemed to come together for me that afternoon, like the new job that starts on Monday, and the other signs that we're back, we're here, and all is well.  The sun was shining, (although we woke up to snow this morning) and we were sitting in the baseball stadium together, and we were happy. 

By the time the game was finished, the Rockies had lost, we had consumed hotdogs and soda and beer and cotton candy, and the sun had slowly moved across the sky to the point where our seats were no longer in the sunshine. We could have stayed for the second game, but we decided that we’d had a good time and we were ready to leave, full and content.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A JOB ~ Just in the nick of time!

And this is my 100th post!  How appropriate that these milestones happened simultaneously.  I am so relieved, so pleased, and so grateful.  What a wild ride!

I start the beginning of May, as a BSA, which in this case means Business Systems Analyst.  It isn't far, the people seem nice, and the company is growing.  I'll be eligible for benefits right away, but won't get paid until the end of May.  I can live with that.  I'll even be making a little more than my last job, without the 2 1/2 hour commute each day!  So, a new adventure begins!

Wow.  I could not have made up a more stressful or dramatic scenario, but that's okay.  It worked out.  I get to stay where I am, renew my lease, and carry on.  It was so fun to tell M when I picked her up from school yesterday!  She did a big "Whoop!"  and gave me a hug and then did a little dance.  She said "now we're going to have MONEY!"  Well, yeah...

And this means that although the next 6 weeks will be tight, I won't have to break into my "non-liquid" reserves, which is a really good thing.  It means I will still have an emergency fund, which is so important, and I'll be able to build back up my savings.  My mind is already whirring ahead to plan my next goals.

I am almost breathless with relief.  It's going to be okay.  It really is.  I gambled big, but I didn't fail.  At the last second, the last dice rolled over.  Whew! 

It makes me feel really happy to see and hear the outpouring of support from my friends - near and far - who have been encouraging and kind this whole time.  What a difference it makes to know that another person is paying attention to the challenges and successes of your life!  It is the best thing we can do for each other:  be there.  It is so powerful and awesome, the gift of friendship.  I am riding on the swell of a wave, and it feels wonderful.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Precipice

In a way, it is down to the wire.

On Thursday, I have to either renew my lease on this townhouse, or not. If not, I have no idea where I will live next.

After six months of determined job hunting, I am still unemployed. I have been on several interviews, but so far, nothing has resulted in a job offer. I have about 10 years of experience in my field, and significant job experience before that, and in a way, I am more employable now than I have ever been. But I am also 48 years old, and I have some cross-country moves on my resume and in my past that could seem troubling to a prospective employer. It is also, as we know, one of the worst economic climates in a long time.

I planned for a year of unemployment, but the lease requires 60 days notice of intent to leave, and so I am confronted with this now. I am not out of money yet, but soon I will have to break into money that is not “liquid,” and I had hoped to keep that in reserve and not have to use it for day-to-day expenses.

I have done two interviews with a company that is still interested in me, and I got a call from their HR guy this morning. He wanted me to know that they will be making their decision this week. This is one of the most promising jobs that has presented itself, and the timing is interesting.

I know that making this move without having secured a job first was beyond risky, and doing it with my daughter in tow is something that weighs heavily on my mind. It’s hard to describe the feeling, though, that I HAD to do this. When I look out across the foothills, I feel so strongly that this is where we are supposed to be, that this is right, and that I made the right move. We live in a sunny, safe, and peaceful place, my daughter goes to a good public school, and our lives are full of things that we didn’t have before. We ride bikes, she goes to swim lessons, she plays with her friends, and I have privacy and freedom and peace. We sleep at night. We have made friends. We feel like we belong here.

It is an odd mix of tranquility and terror. I have learned to put aside the things that I cannot change, and I have also learned to trust my instincts. But the facts are stark and I can read a spreadsheet and a financial forecast well enough; I know that this cannot go on indefinitely. Soon, I will be confronted with the question “What next?”

I really don’t have an answer to that yet. It is hard to contemplate packing up and moving again, let alone all the other logistical questions. I had so hoped it wouldn’t come to this.

But right now I am in limbo, and I don’t do limbo very well. I am a “get to work” kind of girl; I see what needs to be done and I do it. Hanging In the balance of uncertainty is draining and depressing. At regular intervals, I think of something that I want to do or know needs to be done and I have to weigh whether it is prudent to spend the money or undertake that effort now, or put it off to some “other” time. It suspends plans, it makes it hard to make choices, and it puts everything in question.

My daughter told me a few days ago “I love you, Mom. You’re my home.” And I felt like that is the only thing I need to hang onto. I’ve made all the decisions of the past seven years based on what was best for us, and I will keep doing that. We aren’t following the crowd, we don’t conform to a demographic, and we are certainly not fashionable. We aren’t living like the “experts” tell us we should be, but we are living. We will get by.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Some weeks can be too full.

Some weeks can be too full. The birthday party was a success. A couple of kids that said they were coming didn’t show, and that delayed our start time, but “All’s well that ends well.” I discovered that the Littleton Jungle Quest is not as large or all well staffed as the Thornton location, but I don’t hesitate to climb a ladder when I see a kid about to plunge to their death unable to fasten their carabiner, so we managed just fine.

I think M got a charge out of being one of the experienced kids, and she was eager to try just about everything.

The day after the party was a gorgeous warm sunny day, and I was inspired to finally get our bikes ready for the season. M has been riding her bike all along, but I didn’t have mine and I hadn’t put together the Trailer Bike that I’d bought. Sunday we went down to pick up my bike and spent an extra hour or so playing “Who has their head up their butt” with the store employees, involving conflicting phone calls, lost messages, hidden storage areas, and less than helpful website instructions, but at last we left with my bike. I declined their help loading onto my Rav. M and I secured it to the roof rack with bungie cords and we brought it home. But then we had to go out again because that place didn’t have bike helmets and after all the brainwashing instructions I had given my daughter about wearing her helmet, I certainly had to wear one.

Then we came home and I took the bike trailer out of the box and discovered that I did not have two of the allen wrenches that I needed to put it together. I have almost every other tool you can think of, since I used to have an old house that I constantly worked on, but after opening boxes and looking through all my tools, it was back in the car for trip number 3.
Can I just say how much I really do enjoy walking through a Lowes or Home Depot? M does too. It took us a while to find the tools I needed, but they were only 4 dollars, so I was pretty happy. Then I spent a while toiling away on the driveway putting together the Trailer Bike. I had to send one of the annoying little boys in the neighborhood away because he was driving me crazy as I was trying to read and follow the directions. I only have to put up with that from my own child; I read the manual, I know this. I got it all put together except for the last step, when I discovered that the tube that holds the bike seat had gotten just a little smushed in transit. Just enough that the seat pole wouldn’t slide into the hole. I said a few bad words and set about doing what I do best – finding something to work that was never meant for that purpose. I amused my neighbor for a few minutes while I beat on the bike’s shaft saying more bad words until I was able to force the bike seat’s pole in. Go ahead and joke; I’ll wait.
We went for a celebratory spin around the neighborhood and I got thumbs up from several envious parents. The huge orange flag on the back of it made sure that we looked stylin’.

The next day my head cold came roaring back with a vengeance, and I was laid flat for the day feeling like I’d been run over by a truck. Green boogers. ‘Nuff said. This was not how M had planned to spend her Spring Break, but stuff happens. I spent a couple more days feeling like death. I almost never get sick, but when I do it seems like it makes up for it with intensity.

Wednesday I had a second interview with a promising company. It was one of the most bizarre interviews I’ve ever been in, though, and I discovered near the end that the guy didn’t know which position I was there for; he is apparently getting promoted and is also replacing himself, so his strange reaction to me was – I hope – not entirely indicative of my chances for the job I was actually trying to get. Jeez!

Thursday I got the periodontal surgery I was so looking forward to, and I must say, if you have to get periodontal surgery, the new laser procedure is a BIG improvement over the old method. Still… Ow. And the prescriptions that went along with it were not cheap. Fortunately, a couple days later I am feeling pretty good.

After all that you’d think it would be enough, but I got a call from my father on Thursday that a family member died. It was not unexpected, as he had been in a fairly sharp decline, healthwise, for the past year. Personally, I just thought it was a shame because this guy will not be missed. He was a real piece of work, and had royally pissed off or alienated just about everyone he’d ever come into contact with, including his children. He’d left behind a legacy of failed business ventures, broken relationships, money borrowed and not paid back, health issues that were created and/or exacerbated by his own neglect and abuse of his body, and “creative” endeavors that were not met with the appreciation and respect that he made sure everyone knew he thought he deserved. He and I never liked each other but somehow he had it in his head that we did, and that it was my fault that our relationship went sour. I thought for decades that he was delusional.

It seems like a life lesson and a reminder to use this time wisely. Don’t be an asshole. Take responsibility for your own shit. Don’t blame others for your own failings. Appreciate the people in your life who are willing to put up with you and give you second chances. Grow some self –awareness. Grow out of your self-absorption (it stops being attractive in the single digits). Find something worthwhile to spend your time and your energy on, and do it with your best effort. Life is too short to do everything half-assed. Be kind to your body – you’re going to need it longer than you think. And if you are lucky enough to have people in this world who love you, for fuck’s sake, live in such a way that they aren’t relieved to see you go.  That is all.