By Katrina Rasbold
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|June 18, 2002|
IT'S LIKE LABOR
Where you're in great pain, but afterwards, all is forgiven and you just smile and marvel at the incredible results. My bathroom is so beautiful, it's a shame to pee in it. I got all the masking and painting done yesterday, then went to my favorite thrift store (Nextime Thrift on Auburn in Sacramento RULES!) to get some decorations. I hit the mother lode and most were even in the 70% off category!! It was one of those blessed thrift shop moments. I managed to pick up a couple of toys for Eric (a gyroscope, really complex one, and a new Bible - he has an insatiable hunger for all kinds of religious study), as well as the rug (oriental style runner) and the decorations for under $20! Got a nice, lacy curtain for the bathroom and now all that's left is taking out the shower doors (ugh), scraping off the molding/caulking and installing the shower curtain and rod. Then my masterpiece will be complete and MAYBE I can get a decent bath in this house! I can't do anything about the dripping faucet and shower (tie a rag around it, maybe) because the guy who built the house (same guy who built and extension over the crawl space to get under the house) walled in the area to get to the faucet to fix it (can't unscrew from the front, according to the plumber), so you'd have to break out walls and tile and all kinds of things to fix it.
I have some blue accent paint, about the color of this background, that I was going to use to feather-dust onto the base coat (a sort of pearl gray) to add some texture, but now I'm a little reluctant to do that because it looks so good and I don't want to screw up a good thing. The only stickler is that I paid $8 for the little quart of paint and something is by god going to be blue!
So I'm sated, for the meantime. Today is a matter of writing a new spooky story (comin' up next!), catching up on the housework I ignore for the past two days with my bathroom project and reminding my kids of what I look like. So here's my bathroom happy dance:
So this probably means nothing, but on the off chance that it means something to one of you, I'm going to pass it along. It was outstanding not only because of its weird nature, but also because I could remember it when I woke up, it was not my standard Indiana Jones fare or At School In My Underwear Can't Find My Schedule or Locker fare and its clarity was spectacular.
Anyway, I was at a reunion concert for The Singing Rambos, a gospel group from my childhood. They are very, very good. When they were introduced, they got up from the first pew in this big church and I was stunned because Buck (the dad) looked like a really older version of himself (that wasn't stunning, even though I knew he and Dottie, the mom, had split up a long time ago and that she now is touring with a young male companion who is fairly hot, from what I could tell), but Dottie and Reba (the daughter, now married and in ministry with her husband, Donnie) looked more like Sister Vestal from The Happy Goodman family. In fact, Dottie looked just like Reba, only with white hair. Dottie and Buck did "God Walks the Dark Hills," indeed, a Sister Vestal song, but it was in their voices and was a wonderful rendition. Reba got up to sing a song and when she did, she collapsed, totally dead. Everyone was rushed out of the church and an onsite paramedic team started working on her, but while we were waiting outside, we saw them bring her out with a jacket over her face (not a good sign). Since it was only a song into the concert, the promoter was giving people their money back and I noticed that a lot of people had tossed their tickets onto the ground and evidently left. You had to turn in your ticket to get the refund, so I started picking up the tickets.
Anyway, as I was doing that, I heard the whole area where I was go silent and all of the voices fade away. Then I saw a little boy, blonde, maybe 6-7 years old. He had blonde, curly hair and there was light around him. When I looked back, I saw that all of the other people where still there, but they were staring at this little boy and not speaking or hardly moving. The little boy spoke directly to me and said something like (I remember the numbers perfectly, but not he exact phraseology), "On October 25th, in the 427 house, the little boy is going to put crystals on his food and the mom isn't going to see it and is going to make him eat it anyway and he's going to get sick and might die."
I said, "What?" and the dream abruptly ended. My house numbers are 5425, so I'm being careful that day in case the little kid got numbers screwed up, but if that means anything to anyone, don't force feed your kids on October 25th!
So there's that.
There are a few things you really need to know if you are considering stripping the somewhat stuck (or so it appears) wallpaper from your bathroom walls and paint them light grey with little blue feather duster textures added.
1). Your bathroom doesn't really look THAT bad. You just think it does. It's your jaded attitude toward the world that makes you think it looks bad. I suggest that you read a little Dr Phil, maybe some Gary Zukov or Wayne Dyer, and get your head on straight. Your bathroom looks fine. You may scoff now, but about half way through The Scraping Process, you'll know that I was right.
2). Paper that is peeling off in strips is really faking you out. It's tightly adhered and only appears to be peeling off the wall.
3). The wallpaper behind the toilet that you can only reach by contorting into Cirque du Soleil positions is stuck on really, really tight.
4). Wallpaper can and will hold pee vapors, compounded over years and will release them when The Scraping Process is underway.
5). It cannot be done in one day and you'll be disappointed when it can't.
6). Target no longer carries feather dusters.
7). Martha Stewart doesn't really do all that crap herself. She has interns and flunkies who do it all and she just showcases their hard work. She's a fake and a cop out and I think one day she's going to publicly crack up. This investigation into her inside trading faux pas might be what sets it off. She's nuts.
8). Masking tape and sand paper is your friend.
9). Single edged razor blades are really, really sharp.
10). The parts of the wallpaper that were too adhered to the wall to scrape off don't really look like "just more texture" after you've painted over them, so stop kidding yourself.
11). The edge where the ceiling meets the wall is a real bitch.
12). Wallpaper pieces do not flush.
13). The clean up will be almost as bad as The Scraping Process.
It has definitely been a
high impact week or two and Iím still trying to play catch-up.
Itís in a good way, however. It
has been such an intense 2 months that Iím still trying to process everything.
So Eric ended up being laid
off for 7 weeks. In the past, it
has always been a really scary time, wondering how we would pay our rent, buy
groceries, pay pills, keep the car, etc. We
sweat it out and take turns being scared and try to pull the family through.
He has been out of the military since October 2000 and has been laid off
four times so far. This one almost made our longest, which was 8 weeks.
The main problem is that the only work heíd been able to find was
contractor work, which was notoriously unreliable.
We were lucky it carried us through as far as it did.
We entertained a lot of options over the past year and a half, including
the Police Academy and moving out of the area to take other telecom jobs.
We were fairly open to any ideas. What
was odd about this stint is that he got nearly no calls for work.
Usually heís doing a few interviews, making phone calls and such.
This time, he applied for literally hundreds of jobs andÖnothing.
The biggest difference is
that this time, we tried a different approach.
When he called me from Bakersfield, where he was last working (a few
hours south of here), and told me that heíd gotten the call not to come to
work that night, we both felt an enormous sense of relief.
Heíd been working on the road for several months, staying gone for the
week and coming home for the weekend. He
called around 8am and said he was going to get some sleep and drive up.
I felt this familiar feeling that I hadnít felt in a long time.
Itís hard to describe, but itís that exhilarating feeling that sets
in when Magic takes over and The Universe starts sweeping you along in a swift
current toward the rapids. Itís
breathless and mind-blowing and a little scary and wonderfully exciting.
My skin starts to tingle a little and I get a spine rush and I feel the
bottom drop out of my stomach and I get a little high and spacey feeling.
We both felt propelled along this time and went into the layoff with high
hopes. We decided to move totally
on faith and never to waiver in our belief that whatever we needed would be
provided and that we would come out of this experience where ever and however we
needed to be. We figured at worst,
we would end up less stressed and more relaxed in a bad situation. As it turned out, every time we put our foot down, a
stone popped up out of the water to help us along. We experienced about
1000 miracles in those two months and never stopped believing there was another
on the way. It really worked beautifully.
I can definitely advocate
this approach in any difficult situation. Itís
not about being stupid and not doing the things that you need to do to make
changes happen. Itís more like
you catch the wave and tune into the subtle hints along the way.
If Eric woke up feeling like he needed to surf the net for a job, heíd
get on the computer. If he felt a
pull to the paper, heíd grab one. We
spent a lot of wonderful time together. He
got in good time with the kids. We
went to the park to fly kites, went on picnics, played with the kids on the
SlipNSlide and in the wading pool and just had a nice time.
Eric and I talked endlessly and had a wonderful reconnect.
We ironed out some rough patches weíd ignored for a while and did it
fairly peacefully and respectfully (for the most part Ė smile).
I think the roughest patch came in the last week when Eric started to
feel that I needed to get a job. This
is always a touchy subject for the reasons I discussed in my previous post and
also because he starts to feel it and get upset about it before I know itís an
issue. It got really weird when we
talked about me going to work and again, it was for the reasons I discussed
below and not because of laziness. I
felt it was a waste of time and that by the time I got a job, much less a
paycheck, heíd be working and thereíd be no one to watch the kids while I
worked. Basically to appease him, I
went on a half-hearted job hunt. As
you may have read, I got a job at Michaelís, an arts and crafts store.
Itís one of the nicer ones (some are pretty seedy looking) and I was at
peace with working there by the morning of my orientation.
It was quite a process to give up my attachment to the way I thought
things should be and wanted things to be and I had found some really good things
about the idea of having a job again. I
was ready to go.
Eric let me sleep in that
morning because he knew Iíd been sleeping pretty restlessly that night.
He came in at 8:45 and told me heíd applied for a job at 8am and heíd
already been called for an interview. He
left at 9am and called me at noon saying he was on his way home.
He had the job, had already drug tested and was starting the next day.
I have to admit, I felt a bit of a loss when I called Michaelís and
told them that I couldnít take the job. Overall,
I was very happy, but I had gone through such a mental process to get to the
point of being cool with leaving the kiddies and my safe haven that it felt like
Iíd crammed for a test and found out that I didnít have to take itÖfound
out there wasnít even a school. Iím
still working on what that did for me, but I know it will be some little nugget
filed away for future use. I feel
like I passed some kind of test and got a little further along the way.
Eric really loves his new
job. Itís ManStuff. Itís
direct hire instead of contract work, so we shouldnít have as much of a threat
of layoff. The company has a lot of
work and plans to keep him busy. At
this point, what he does is go to a construction site when the building is
almost finished, study blueprints and find a giant cable coming up out of the
ground with about 600 wires coming out of it.
His job is to lead a team of guys in the project of wiring everything in
the building, from cable TV to phones to fire alarms and motion detectors.
Right now, they are working on a bajillion dollar school on Cache Creek
Indian Reservation in Brooks, CA. Heís
about an hour away from home. There
is a lot of physical effort involved in pulling the cables and such and a lot of
it is dirty work. Heís pumping up
nicely in the chest area (big grin!) and has gotten a deep tan from working
outside so much. He seems very
happy and should ever get bored since every project is doing something
different. The pay isnít
outstanding, about half what he was making before, but the steady work should
even things out. Weíll have
enough to get by on with few extras, but if we play it just right, weíll do
fine. As they say, itís all good.
The article about my son,
Joe is online here.
The newsstand version has pictures and is more detailed.
Heís very excited. Itís
the July issue of Yahoo Internet Life.
Joshua has a leaving date!
I canít believe it! We
waited over a year for him to be accepted by some branch of the service and none
of that panned out because of some trouble he got into over 5 years ago when he
was a babyteen and pretty messed up. When
heíd go to the recruiter, heíd lay on the line everything that happened,
theyíd tell him it wasnít a problem and months later, after waiting and
waiting and jumping through hoops getting this letter of reference and this
waiver, heíd find out it suddenly was a problem. From a friend, he found out about the California Conservation
Corp and heís very excited about it. He
leaves on August 5 for San Luis Obispo, where he will be staying on a reserve
base in barracks. He already knows
a guy there, so that will help. I
know he has to be scared because heís done very little outside of the house.
Iím a little as well. Itís
always hard when a bird leaves the nest, especially when heís going to be far
away, going into an unknown situation. I
know Iíll be OK, with a few tears to come and a few behind me.
Iím excited for him to finally be getting his life off the ground, but
Iíll miss him very much. He was
may littlest baby for a long, long time until Delena came along. Ten years, I guess. For
all that time, I thought he was my last and when he was grown and gone, itíd
be my turn. Iíd be retired by
then and ready to get on with the second part of my life, away from child
raising and over-extending and over-nurturing.
I am not sure how I would have felt back then if I had known that there
would be three more little ones coming down the pike.
I was so different back then, when he was little.
When I think of me back then, itís hard for me to get inside my own
head and believe I was still me. A
lot of my life, prior to maybe 1994 or so, is a really big blur.
There was some great stuff and I have lots of distinct memories, but
there was also an awful lot of bad stuff and I try to let that get fuzzy so that
I donít accidentally get cut on the sharp edges if Iím walking around in the
dark sometime. I hate that in doing
so, Iíve lost a good portion of the big boysí childhoods.
I know I still have more, jeez, more, sorting to do back there to make it
a safer place to be. Iíve come a
long way and been able to forgive so much, just so it doesnít rule me any more
and so I donít have that attachment to people (person) who hurt me.
Anyway, somewhere along the
way, I got so set over those ten years in the idea that Josh was my last, that
when 1999 rolled around and Joe and David were leaving home, I had a really hard
time turning around and being mommy to a 7-year-old, a 2-year-old and a newborn. It was a rough patch, thatís for sure. It was by no means a lack of love or a lack of interest in
their well being, but more of having to make a conscious effort to focus on
giving to them instead of drifting off in my own little world. Something in my head unhooked the mommy console until I
figured out that the problem was that 2 of my birdies had flown and I was going
into empty nest syndrome prematurely. After
a few weeks, I got it back and was able to hit the rest button for the most
part. Sometimes, Iíll still have
a hard time. When I think about how
I started taking care of my momís family when I was 10 and that Iíll be 56
when Nathan turns 18, I get a little freaked out.
Forty-six years of taking care of people seems a little daunting when
itís looked at in bulk. Sometimes
(I will sell no whine before its time), it feels like it will never be my turn
or when it is, Iíll be too depleted to appreciate it.
Iíll just collapse and die and be done with it.
I think Iíll be OK
nurture-wise when Josh leaves and wonít have the problems I did when Dave and
Joe left. Iím aware of the situation and on the lookout for it, plus,
Iím a little more ensconced in the mommy-process than I was then.
Iím sure itíll be fine except for a bit of a grief process when he
goes. I just seem to make those
umbilical cords a little tougher and a little shorter than most people and when
they leave, it tears at my uterus and my heart a little bit.
I have that grasping, panicky moment of feeling like I havenít done
enough, havenít said enough, havenít prepared them enough.
I so desperately want to ďdo betterĒ with these three little ones
than I did with the big boys. I was
an abysmally terrible mom to them, very mentally absent, always focused on other
things and never really seeing them. Trying
to juggle a very alcoholic personality for a husband and dad who couldnít get
past the abusive and controlling side of his personality long enough to allow us
to rest for any length of time. Life
was tense and there was always a sense of pending eruption.
He left us a total of 8 times in the 15 years before the first divorce
and between that and the frequent Air Force moves, we were always in a period of
transitioning in or out. It was
such an unsettled, tempestuous mess that I am surprised they came out of it as
well as they did. They are all
three fine men with wonderful qualities that make me very proud. They were all three desperately hurt on many levels by
thoughtless and selfish and ignorant behaviors inflicted on them by me and my
ex-husband and there are about 10,000 things I can whip off the top of my head
that Iíd give almost anything to go back and do differently.
Some times, the only thing that stills the demons for me is to remember
the Maya Angelou quote, ďI did what I knew to doÖand when I knew better, I
did better.Ē God, I just wish
Iíd known better sooner. Life would have been so different. Regret so righteously sucks.
All I can do is try to be a good mom to them now and to the little ones.
Iíve apologized to each one of them repeatedly, until they are probably
tired of hearing it. I cower when I
think of how unevolved and unaware and unpresent I was in my own soul and mind
back then. I am just grateful to be
here now. I am so grateful that I
still have their love and have them in my life.
I am not quite sure how I managed that one.
So Eric is happily working
away with a good dayís work for a good dayís pay.
He paid for the bartending school he wanted to take and still plans to do
that in a month or so. Heíd make
a wonderful bartender. Josh is
getting set to go and life is moving along.
Iíll have my combination guest room/family room/meditation room that is
now Joshís lair. Life will be
very quiet with one of the adults gone from the house and my major focus will be
on the second half of my mommy-life. Delena
will most likely be homeschooled next year and little Dylan will go into
kindergarten. Nathan will miss him,
but will enjoy the solo time, Iím sure.
The boys were nutty this week, reacting to the change of Eric being gone
and trying to find their feet with the energy shift in the house as it went back
to being only mom in charge. I
realized how much Eric had been doing to help out with the kids and the house by
the second day and got a little whelmed (as Eric saysÖI wasnít overwhelmed,
mind you, just whelmed) and had to get my act together quickly.
Iím still not at 100% with my system, but Iíll be damned if Iím
going back to having that bitch at www.flylady.com
cracking a whip on my in my sacred inbox. I
just need a few more hours in the day and a few more days in the week. J
I know Iíve probably
mentioned this before, but the group of ladies that I work with spiritually is
called ďThe HutĒ for the hut at the corner of the village where the
menstruating women would go to be away from the demands of the village and think
deep thoughts and share wisdoms and laughter and support during this powerful
time of their month. This was a place where it was perfectly safe to be a woman
and to experience all that being a woman entails.
Itís been a wonderful, fulfilling experience to be with The Hut and
even though for the most part, weíve let the men back into the group, we are
still meeting every New Moon to share and be wimmin.
We shifted our meeting to this week (since one of our Hut Sisters had to
be out of town last week) and weíre going to go see ďDivine Secrets of the
Ya Ya SisterhoodĒ together after going to a nice restaurant for dinner.
Weíve had it planned for over a month now and weíre all looking
forward to it. I need this to fill
my cup and get some nurture-time. Eric tries, but heís just not a nurturing person.
He knows it and I know it and we are both good with that.
This gives me a bit of a fix to carry through the month.
We have really strong, capable women in our group, so it doesnít
usually get all sappy and fruity and weepy, but tends to be very empowering and
uplifting. Itís quite a blessing
in my life.
And thatís about all thatís going on in my world right now! I will write more as I can, between getting my jive on with being housemarm again and keeping up on the routine site work and working this freaky-assed budget. I hope you have a wonderful weekend! Since that Mercury retrograde was finally finished last Saturday, you should all be having some difficult situations righting themselves again and feeling like things are back on track. Just keep your hands and feet inside the car at all times and donít stand up on the turns.
June 5, 2003
Curiouser and Curiouser.
First off, I just noticed that my dad and mom's anniversary is today. I wonder if she still thinks about it after he's been dead for 16 years, she's buried a second husband and is with a wonderful boyfriend now. I actually got past April 28, what would have been my 22nd anniversary to Paul, and didn't notice. I thought of it a couple of days later.
Next, all weird employment hell broke out today. It was my day to sleep in :) and Eric came in and woke me up just before 9am and told me that he'd just gotten a call for a job interview. By noon, he had the job, had already drug tested and was on his way home. It's as a fibro-optic cabler/splicer and they want to move him up into an engineering job soon. There's overtime, full medical/dental, overtime, direct hire (no more contract work), overtime and it's local and during the day. He starts tomorrow.
I asked him what he wanted to do about the bartending classes we'd just paid for and he said he really still wanted to do it and would take the weekend classes. That leaves no time for me to work. I pointed that out and I ended up calling the woman to say I couldn't take the job.
Now I feel oddly confused. I got all psyched up to do the job and had considered the benefits of it and now that it's gone, I'm not sure what I feel. Like I studied hard for a big test and found out it was canceled.
I'm going to go hug my kids. :)
June 4, 2003
There is so much going on
lately that a complete family overview is probably the best way to update.
Eric: (the hubby) No job
yet. Heís been laid off for about 6 weeks now.
Weíve been piecing life together on his unemployment and VA disability
payment. So far, when weíve
needed money, itís manifested. He
hasnít had a single call for work. Heís
applied for literally hundreds of jobs. On
Monday, he starts a nationally accredited bartending school here in town.
The school is just opening, so instead of the usual $695 fee, itís only
$295. His father is sending him the
money to pay the tuition. He will
be a wonderful bartender.
Check this out:
Doesnít he have the look?
He definitely has the attitude and will do extremely well.
Heís great with chemistry and other Man Science things, so I have no
doubt heíll excel at this as he does most things.
The school has a placement service, so that will help and itís for
life, so at worst, heíll have a viable side career to fill in the gaps when
heís not working telecom. It will
be a great skill to have AND he just stopped drinking a little over two weeks
ago, so that will serve him well in this. Bartenders
are in demand and make great money here. He
has been wishing for a change of career for months now, so it looks like he got
it! Heís had his ups and downs
with fears about having little income, but overall, heís weathered it very
well and itís been nice to have him around.
(oldest son, 24) ďYahoo Internet LifeísĒ July issue comes out any
day now and has the 5 page spread on him and his character ďBilliamĒ on
LiveJournal. Weíre very excited
about it. He has screenplays
submitted for a contest in Victoria, Canada, where he live (they are making an
independent movie) and for a Disney fellowship.
We are so proud of him! He
still lives in Victoria with his wife, Sandra.
(son #2, 22) Is doing well in his new job for Wells Fargo doing customer
service by phone. He has been
taking care of himself since he first left home in 1999 and we are very proud of
(son #3, 20) has an orientation to enter the Conservation Corp and is
looking to be stationed in San Diego. He
wants to be a fire fighter. We are
so proud of him and finally it looks like heís found the path that is going to
work for him. Heís eager to get
out into the world and it will be different to only have the little kiddies at
home, like the closing of an era.
(only daughter, 10) is now being home schooled and is much happier.
We have gotten many indications that it was the right choice and we are
happy to have her in better spirits and more relaxed.
I wasnít sure I was up for the challenge of home schooling, but it is
working out well. The kids that I
was seeing in her class are definitely not what I want to have as examples to
her of normal kid behavior. We are
so proud of her for working so hard to make the new system work!
Dylan: (#4 son, 4) is
growing up so fast! Heís finally
gotten the speaking part down, which took him a while and heís easing up into
a developmental place where we are feeling more comfortable sending him to
school in August. We considered
home schooling him as well, but he is very, very eager to go to school, so we
are going to give him a try.
(#5 son, 2) is potty-trained AND wipes his own butt!
No mean feat for a kid to totally bypass the whole ďwipe meĒ phase,
but he did it! No more diapers!
Yayyyy! He practically
trained himself, which was great. It
was positively effortless. Heís
finally starting to talk and I can understand most of what he says, but itís
not for the faint of heart or nonfamily interpretation.
He still sits down like a girl and canít pee if heís standing up (a
real pain when we are out with no bathroom and only bushes)Ösome kind of weird
cutoff valve, I guess. He can,
however, stand flat-footed on the toilet seat and pee into the hole. We discourage this not only because of the falling potential,
but also because his directionals arenít all they should be yet and he usually
ends up douching the seat quite a bit. He
totally loves big boy undies. Life
is good. Heís also become quite a good (strangely good for a 2-year-old)
little artist! I guess all that
time he logged in on my walls with the crayons served him well.
Saved for last because itís bound to be the longest one and Iím not
really sure what is going to come out. But
then, I never do (insert wan smile). Life
is really changing. We have been
fortunate with this layoff with having a bit of savings and getting in his VA
settlement, so we arenít dying, but itís going long and weíre being very
careful now. We fully expected that
heíd be happily ensconced in a new job by now.
Eric loves to work. Heís
never been much of a homebody and prefers to be out, doing things with his hands
and being productive. Where a lot
of my validation is wrapped up in my emotional responses from people, a lot of
his is tied up in being told what a good job he does.
He strives for excellent in whatever job he does and achieves it
unfailingly. When he was in the
military, he was the one, even as just a Senior Airman, that everyone went to if
they wanted to know how to solve a telecom problem.
Regardless of their rank, they went to Eric.
He has this weirdly analytical mind that truly understand the intricate
workings of physics and electronics. He
melds with the system and the machine and intuitively knows what goes where and
how. Since he left the Air
Force, heís had three different jobs and had quickly mastered them all, even
when he was in over his head to start. In
many ways, he defines himself by his success on the job and so these longs
periods of joblessness are disheartening for him at times.
He and I have both done much better this time around about having faith
that everything is happening for our greatest good and that all we need to do is
relax, have faith, be frugal and hang in there. Weíve both had our lapses and shaky moments, but overall,
weíve kept our panic, fears and doubts in check and just believed firmly that
all will be well.
Right after we were married,
Eric and I decided together that I would be a stay at home mom.
There is some history behind this that dates back to at time when Eric
was about 2-3 years old (I am 15 years older than he is).
When I married my first husband, he made it clear that I would work.
I was very young and used to doing what my parents said, so it
transferred easily over to doing what Paul said.
We had three children and I worked the whole time they were growing up at
one job or another. Paulís
feeling was that if he had to work, so did I.
It wasnít fair for me to sit home and have it cushy raising kids while
he went to work every day. From the
time I was really little, I knew I was a mom.
When I left home at 16, I had 173 dolls (not counting Barbies) and each
had a name and a history and at least one set of clothes, some of which I made. I was always a cuddler and a mommy. When I had to leave the care of my babies to other people,
sometimes strangers, it broke my heart, but it was what Paul thought was best
and so thatís what we did. Even in times of plenty, his philosophy was that if
he was working and making enough money for us to live on, me working was
necessary to raise our standard of living and make things ďfair.Ē
The only time I didnít work was when we would get to a new base and
Iíd be waiting for a job to come up. I
worked in NonAppropriated Funds jobs in Air Force bases for a long while, doing
library work, bussing tables, waiting tables and such.
Later, in 1980, I became a Lamaze Childbirth Instructor and taught
classes, usually in conjunction with working another job or two.
I didnít give up Lamaze teaching until 1997 and by then, I was pretty
burned out on birth (and pregnant, ironically).
In that 17-year interim, I had sooo many jobs.
In 1986, I became a library assistance and I think that is the job I
enjoyed most. Through that, I
became a civil service employee and that really sped up the job shifts because
within that structure, you are encouraged to change jobs frequently to accept
promotions and get masses of training in many different fields, making it easier
for you to get a job at the next base you go to.
From the library, I became a front office worker for the OB/GYN clinic,
from there, I did data entry for F-16 statistics, from there I became a medical
transcriptionist, then on to working at Edwards AFB on a really cool NASA
project called AFTI, which was a prototype, ďuncrashableĒ plane, then back
to medical transcriptionist, then a child care front office clerk, then on to
running the base preschool for two years. When
I got to Sacramento, it was a myriad of jobs again.
I was a data entry person for the traffic and parking tickets, then I was
a telephone operator and lastly, I had a job that I thought would be very
different than it was, an environmental protection assistant.
I didnít realize that in actuality, what I thought would be saving
ducks and cleaning ground water messes turned out to be typing material safety
data sheets all day long.
Anyway, by the time I got to
that last job, Iíd worked my way up to a whopping $13.50 an hour, the most
money Iíd ever made. Even though
it doesnít sound like much, it was just over what Eric made.
One day, when Dylan was about 5 months old, Eric asked me how I would
feel about being a stay at home mom. He
said his mom had worked his entire childhood and it would have meant a lot to
him to have her home and he would be willing to reduce our income by half to
give that to the kids. I was
stunned. I was moved. I was thrilled. I
was terrified. I think what scared
me the most was that it meant investing my entire future in him and the
continuation of the marriage. I was
barely 2 years out of a marriage that ended very badly after a total of 18 years
together (over 2 marriage to the same guy) and Iíd twice had to take care of
children as a single mom, working 2-3 jobs at once to make ends meet.
I couldnít imagine not having the security of my own income.
I also had just had offered to me what my heart, soul and uterus had
craved for the past 20 years. I
could finally be at home with my kids and watch them grow upÖif I was willing
to live in poverty to do it. I was,
we did and it was glorious. Sure,
there were some gnarly times. My
hands shook when I signed my resignation and it took me a few minutes to work up
the nerve to cut that tie. When he
got out of the military, he made great money when he was working, but there were
weeks at a time when he was laid off and somehow, we managed to get by. Last fall, I took a job cleaning houses for our property
managers, usually 1-2 a week. It
was hard, disgusting work (You would not believe the condition people leave
houses in when they move out. Examples
are here and here),
the pay was paltry, I had to buy my own cleaning supplies, which ran about $20
per house and fortunately, I didnít have to do it for very long before Eric
was hired again.
Now itís been about 6
weeks (I lost count) since Eric last worked and a couple of weeks ago, I did
something I havenít done in almost 6 yearsÖI went job hunting.
I made a list of places that I presumed I wouldnít hate working at and
took my resume in and filled out endless applications.
On Friday, I interviewed for a job at Michaelís (an arts and crafts
store) and yesterday, I found out I got the job.
In a weird moment, just before I left on Friday, Eric told me he didnít
want me to work, that it wasnít worth the pay for me to be away from him and
the kids. We decided to put it in
the hands of the Universe and see what happened.
There were two positions and I was up against a number of people and I
was riding on 5 years of no experience following 20 years of job jumping.
I didnít really care if I got the job or not because I could see
benefits to both directions. I had to take a really stupid Orion ďopinionĒ test and I
was sure Iíd lost any chance of getting the job by honestly answering the
questions about marijuana and the place of the nonconformist in an organization.
I am nothing if not honest. Here
is an example of the report Orion gives back to the employer when their test is
used as a pre-employment tool: http://www.chrysaliscorporation.com/pdf/orion.pdf
(you have to have adobe acrobat to read it)
I personally think Myers-Briggs is a better assessment tool, but they
didnít ask me. I fully expect a drug test, which wonít be a problem
because my opinions about the legalization of marijuana do not necessarily mean
that I partake or that I didnít get bored with it some time ago (unless Sage
is around, then most anything is fun). So
I took their test and I guess got the job (I donít think they got the report
back yet). I will be stocking and
working the register, so if anyone comes by the Michaelís on Sunrise across
from the Sunrise Mall in Sacramento (or maybe itís Citrus Heights) on Friday
morning, Sunday, 2-8 or Monday, 5-closing, find me and say hello.
My reaction to working again
has been very odd and very irrational. Iíve
felt grief-stricken. Eric was the
first one to bring up the idea and I was stunned.
Itís obvious that in times of hardship, everyone should chip in and
intellectually, I have no problem with that.
I want to do my part, definitely. I
couldnít help but feel a huge myriad of emotions, not of them particularly
fun. I felt like I was losing
something very precious. I valued
the time I had solely at home with the kids so very much. I had no idea how much
it would come to mean to me. It was
more like a phenomenal lifestyle enhancement than a career change.
I am so grateful for that time and I will miss it very much.
I know that they will too and it will be confusing for them to have me
gone. We are a team. We are buddies. Mom
is the constant, even when Dad had to go away to work out of town for a whole
week, coming home on weekends for months at a time. My heart cries out, ďBut I just got the kick-ass book idea!
But I just started home schooling Delena!
But I wonít have the time I need to work on the site!Ē
When I left my last job (not
counting the housecleaning, which was known to be temporary), I did a ritual to
release that part of my life. Iíd
worked for 20 years and now I was retiring, closing that door and opening
another one. Along the way, a lot
of people often asked me why I didnít have a degree and would look at me
sternly and insist I would never get anywhere without it.
I never wanted a degree; never had a momentís interest in pursuing one.
I took college classes, plenty of them, but only ones that interested me.
I took EMT and paramedic classes because my boys (the big ones) were
forever getting hurt and I wanted to know how to patch them up. I did some work in the ER as well as a result of the classes,
which showed me I did NOT want to be a paramedic. I took some computer classes, a speech class, creative
writing, audio-visual media, just silly things that struck my fancy and could no
way come together to make anything, really.
In my heart, when someone would ask me to define myself, I was a mom
first, then a writer. There just
wasnít another damned thing that interested me.
I despise office work, even though thatís what most of my career
involved. I knew this time (and
Eric pressed it hard and I pressed right back) that I didnít want to do that.
I know my typing is crap now, compared to 170 wpm as a transcriptionist.
Now Iím the most dyslexic typist on the earth.
I couldnít pass a typing test in my glory days.
Something about them always made me freeze up.
Now, I know Iíd not even come close, despite typing for 4-6 hours a day
now. I never bothered with the
degree, not only because there were no fields that interested me, but also
because it just didnít feel like something I would ever need and I didnít
want to waste my time. When I ritualized the end of my work force days, I knew
Iíd made the right choice and I was sure that part of my life was over.
But here it is again.
The job sounds fine. Thatís
not the problem. Itís just
changeÖdifferentÖnothing like what I expected.
Itís not laziness, as some people would quickly assess (My in-laws have
always chalked my stay-at-home mom status up to ďKatrina just wonít work and
poor Eric has to support her lazy assĒ and they pretty much despise me for
it). Itís a sense of belonging,
of feeling like Iím doing what Iím supposed to be doing. Sure, I complain about it sometimes. Raising kids is a pain at times, as is housekeeping, which is
totally not my ball of wax. But I
love it. I love being home with my
kids and knowing they canít envision a life without mom there at home with
them. So largely, itís just the
loss of a dream, once I had it.
I was having a good cry over
it and trying to figure out all that was bothering me about it and why I was
bothered at all. Eric wasnít
particularly sympathetic (in my Fatastic Journal,
I wrote today about him not being particularly nurturing, despite being a really
great guy) and he informed me he could package the whole deal up for me quick
and simple like: I spent 20 years
in the work force and it hadnít amounted to ďdickĒ because I was now going
to go to work for minimum wage, working for someone half my age with twice my
energy and I think I'm too good for that.
Yeah, that stung, but not in
a way that struck any chord in me. Just
in a way that confirmed to me that he really, really just didnít get it (and
if that kept up, wasn't going to get it for a long time).
I know that part of the reason I'm so uneasy about going back to work has nothing to do with the kids. Part of it is because when I ritualized leaving the work force, I also ritualized the end of my exposure to the world. I happily closed the door on everything outside of my house that I could not access by computer. All of my jobs had been pretty much customer service oriented expect for the AFTI project. Again, Iíd been nurturing and doing for and helping people for 20 years in the work force and now it has been for 30 years in my whole life en total (I started at age 10). When I left my job, I went homeÖliterally, into a world that was totally on my terms. My children love me to distraction and I have to prove little to them. The only time I have to deal with peopleís crap is if Eric gets a bug up his ass about something (and some weeks, heís in dire need of an exterminator). If people are being shitty with me on the computer about the site (very rare), I can push a button and they *go away.* If a bill collector is getting belligerent, I push a button and they *go away.* My life is very controlled, very safe, very secure, very nonthreatening, very isolated and very much within my control. When I go ďout there,Ē itís because Iím going out to dinner or to a movie or shopping. Then, I can be charming, alluring, exciting, patient, understanding and a whole hoard of wonderful things. Now, Iím going to be ďout thereĒ all the time. I feel very exposed, almost violated. I feel like Iíve been ripped from my little sanctuary and put on stage in the bright spotlight. It might be a little step for some people, but to let go of that control is a big, giant, scary step for me. Iíll manage it and Iíll do fine and no one will ever know thereís anything going onÖwell, no one other than the thousand or so of you. :)
June 3, 2002
Holy Cow! I just saw Beverly Crusher as a judge on The Practice!!
June 3, 2002
*sigh* The movie "Michael" just went off (broadcast). I'm such a John Travola nut. Any time I see him in a good movie, I turn into Doreen from Saturday Night Fever, "I just love to watch you dance...I just love to watch you dance." *sigh*
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April - May 2002
Katrina's NonSoapy Archives