Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Rome, Pompeii, Istanbul! What it's like being me...


OK!  I finally have a shipment of my book, NEVER LOOK A GIFT HEARSE IN THE GRILLE.  If you want it, you can get it from me for $11.00, or buy it from the publisher for $15.00 plus tax and shipping.  I have (I HOPE!) added the link to lulu.com.  Otherwise, just contact me at FAHOGG at aol.com, and I'll be happy to send you one.  Thrill at the embarrassment of your high school friends!  (I am still not sure whether Marisue Richardson is still talking to me--Colleen McNeilly seems to have come to some sort of personal resolution, who knows what Carl Wasson thinks?)


I broke our camera just days before our big trip.  We bought a new one, and I took a zillion pictures of all our wonderful adventures, but as yet, I haven't figured out how to get them into a computer file I can find again!  Argh!  Why am I so computer DUMB?  I am so smart at other things!  Really!  I am! I have a very high IQ!

So I will write to you about all the exciting things we did and saw, but later.

Today, I want to write about what it is like to be me.  Being me today, has reduced me to tears.  I am SO depressed and bummed.


Ten years ago I had a job I loved.  I was helping poor and disadvantaged people in inner-city Detroit deal with bad guys.  I loved my clients, especially my dear old ladies.  I got a great deal of personal satisfaction from knowing I could make huge differences in the quality of their lives whenever I got a mortgage set aside or I kept someone from being evicted.  I was involved with youth groups in my inner-city church.  I knew it was my calling since childhood to help other people.  I knew my path.  I was on the right road.

I had a busy life in other ways, too.  I lived with my good friends, Dawn and Leo, and other friends like Herb and Cindy and Danny and Benita.  I had a big house and whenever anybody was in a tight squeeze I was usually able to help them out, offering a place to stay for awhile until they got back on their feet.  (A writer friend suggested I should write my life story and title it, "Strays.")  I wrote mystery novels and ran a theater company and was a volunteer for various good causes.  One of the best and most enjoyable things I EVER did in my life was to be the foster mother of two bright, funny little girls.  I had friendships all over the globe (I still do) and one of those friends was the wonderfully funny and incredibly smart and excellently good-hearted and honest Robert Lochow.

Then the job I loved was de-funded.  I found another one that was almost the same.  Robert told me he loved me and asked me to move to New York.  I hesitated--what about all those people who depended on me?  One by one, barriers fell away, though sometimes in ways I never would have wished.  Leo suddenly died.  My babies went back to live with their mother.  Dawn and Herb moved away.  My new job was slated for de-funding.  The house next to mine caught fire and my house was damaged.  [I figure, when God has been sending you all sorts of messages and you keep arguing with Him about it, when He gets around to burning your house down, you better listen!]

So I moved to New York.  I LOVE it here.  The mountains and the majestic Hudson River and the waterfalls and ancient farmhouses and forests and historic areas thrill me.  I live in my dream house--so pretty and comfortable.  I married Robert.  We have been together for ten years (having known each other for about eighteen years before we had our first "date") and we have never had a fight.  I adore him.  We are intellectual equals and share so many interests.  He is always thoughful and supportive of me, I am the happiest wife in the world.     

My only frustration is that I have not been able to find the right place for myself, job-wise.  I loved working at Robert's firm as a paralegal, but that ended when the firm had a bad year and had to lay off a lot of people.  I loved working for attorney Charles Rock, helping families with children who had been damaged by lead paint poisoning and people who had strokes after chiropractic treatment.  (Charles is personable and talented and wonderful; I loved everybody I worked with there; I loved the work I did; but the bad economy has affected law firms everywhere, and his work dried up.)  Hell, I even loved cleaning cat litter boxes at the shelter --  FOR NOTHING!  I always enjoy my work!  I always enjoy DOING something and finding ways to solve problems.  But I got laid off in February, 2009, and I have had ZILCH luck finding a new job since then.

I realized lately that the situation I am in now is very similar to the one I was in in Detroit.  I am at a crossroad.  The life I loved and enjoyed is not available to me anymore.  I need to figure out what I am good at doing and what makes me happy, and go for it.  I need to trust my instincts.  (Robert Lochow made me happy.  I went for it.)

I was telling Robert a while ago how frustrated I am because I can't do anything that anybody wants.  He told me something that really made me feel better.  I had just purchased an antique chair that needed to be refinished, repaired, and the seat re-caned.  I told him I had purchased the caning supplies on line and I was waiting for them.  He said, "You know how to weave a chair seat?"  I said, "Sure."  He said, "I don't know ANYONE who knows how to do all the things you do!  You are remarkable!  Everything you do, you do well!  How can you think that you can't do anything!"

But my legal experience is very specialized, and I have a learning disability that affects my ability to do mathmatical or spacial computations.  (Dischronophasia and discalculia!  Look them up!)  I decided to screw being a lawyer though I still want to keep my license so I can be a volunteer lawyer and help non-profit organizations.  I realized I need to take a close look at what I enjoy, what I am good at doing, and find a job doing that.   

So today, I applied for a job as Activities Director of an assisted living facility.  Having dealt with the demise of my mother and mother-in-law and all the fussing I did trying to find ways to help them feel better about their changed lives and their depression and feelings of uselessness (and I was SUCCESSFUL at that), I found things they could do, despite their challenges, that made them feel they were still contributing to society.  This is a calling so near my heart, I can't even write about it without crying.  It is so important to me.

All my experience outside of being a lawyer suits me for this job.  I love doing event planning.  I just pulled off an incredibly successful fundraiser for the cat shelter.  I ABLY handled the cat shelter auction a year ago, in spite of it happening a month after the entire economy collapsed.   Thanks to my artsy-fartsy parents, I know how to do all sorts of things, and I have some talent in almost every "craft area."   I HAVE A MILLION IDEAS.  I am always busy and always doing something creative. 

But the person (she was sweet, and I would love to work with her, and I hope I will be able to!) who looked at my resume said, "Oh, you don't want to do this!"  She told me what I REALLY want to be is a lawyer, and it was ridiculous for me to expect I could make the same money doing this paltry job (my response:  WHO SAYS?  DO YOU THINK I AM NUTS??).  She actually told me she thought I should move back to Michigan. She couldn't understand why I am here, when I had such a useful life there!  I literally had to FIGHT her to get her to listen to me, and when I told her about some of the volunteer things I do ("Oh!  You're the cat pin lady?") she made a special entreaty to her boss to talk to me.  But he, finding I am a lawyer, said, "You don't have the experience I want."  He has no idea what experience I have.  I am so disgusted and upset.  I have been crying for about four hours.

So tomorrow I will send him a letter asking him to reconsider me.  I'll tell him all the stuff I can do.  Then I'll figure out how to transfer these freaking pictures of our WONDERFUL trip to Rome and Pompeii and Istanbul, and I'll write you another letter!

I LOVE YOU ALL!  I receive all your unconscious mind messages of good cheer, but I sure wish I could get a note from you now and then!

F and R.