Saturday, February 10, 2018

Mid-life crisis?

I am too old, too bitter, too frustrated.  Too stuck.  Too helpless.  Too angry.

Maybe not helpless.  But the rest I feel to my bones right now.

My chest hurts with stress, anxiety.  My mind lashes out - at everything around me.  People suck.  My neighborhood is acting like it wants to push me out.  Portland is fucked - too clique-ish, too hip, too young, so fucked up.

Why aren't things different?  Why am I seemingly stuck in this one spot?  What in the fucking hell do I need to get out of this fucked up rut?

My job is.... geez, how do I describe my job?  The owner is in his own world.  He doesn't see the things that are right in front of his face.  He doesn't run his business like a business man.  He runs it by the seat of his pants.  And seems oblivious to the wreckage he creates and leaves behind.  None of this is malicious - it's just who he is.  An eccentric.  Not in the "how fun is he" kinda way, either.  More like the "how the hell has this guy survived this long" kinda way.

Change jobs.

Yes, that is the solution.  So I look around for comparable jobs.  None seem to pay as well as my current job (which still doesn't pay that much, all the same).  Ok, how about translating my 15 years of experience into a management job, or into a new career?  Sounds good.  But sometime since I last had to really apply for a job things have changed.  Seems like everyone is now using online application filtering software.  You submit your resume and then are forced to go through a form, re-entering all the info on the resume you just submitted.  (Fucking really??)  And if you don't have the proper "keywords" somewhere in there, your application is shunted to the circular file.  Great.  Ok.  New world, things change.  Got it.  Guess I've got to figure out what the proper keywords are and work them in there somewhere.

Sigh.

I need a bit of a break.  So I'm taking one.  Take a breath and figure out what it is that I really want to be doing in my next job.  Plus I'm tempering my acute frustration towards my job to give myself a mental break.

That's better.  Somewhat.

But I feel lost.  I'm fucking 50 years old and really understand what women (especially - men feel this too, just not as much) have said for decades - once you hit a certain age, you become invisible. I live paycheck to paycheck, and lately I get the feeling that my company is having cash flow issues (how many paper checks do you get before you realize that they don't consistently have enough in the bank to pay by direct deposit?).  My house needs work (it is 121 years old!), but in order to do any of it, I'd have to pull more out of my HELOC, which eats a big enough portion of my paycheck already, or ask my mom for a loan.  

I haven't found a man in this town that is worth my time.  Of course, part of that is that I never go out.  Don't feel like I can afford it (yes, money is that tight).  And most of my friends are married or coupled off.  They're at home chilling with Netflix, not out playing wingman for their single friends.  OkCupid was useless.  Plenty of Fish - equally so.

I've got very little tying me to this town.

So leave.

It's my most recent thought.  Rent my house out, buy a used RV, travel the country.  Find myself.

Easier to sell my house - then the money isn't an issue - but.... I'm not sure I'm ready for that move yet.  I'd rather travel for 6 months, see if I could find a place to land in, then sell the house.

Now... how do I fund all this?

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Join the circus

Lately I've been considering the option of selling my house and traveling around the country and/or world, living off the proceeds of the house sale.

It's very tempting.  Put my important things in storage, selling the rest.  Get my cat accustomed to living in our car.  That would be the hardest task.

This option, once on my list, has only moved up the list, never off.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Sonajero dancers.

There is a family in Tuxpan, Jalisco, Mexico who I miss.  Laura and Pati and Cynthia.  And Luis, Luisito, Sergio, Sergiolito, Maribel, Ana, Oscar, Dorian, Mayra, and Avril.  Every once in a while I run across one of their Facebook posts and I surf through their photos.  I used to do this to see if I could spot my ex in their photos.  But he hasn't shown up for a long time now.  And I don't look for him much these days.  Now I'm marveling at how much the kids have grown up, how some things in the town never seem to change, how the sisters are aging.

Someone I don't know posted a video of the annual traditional dancers that take over the town three times around the beginning of the year.  When I lived there I took many photos of them.  Had I not been in such a messy mental state, I might have taken much more, much better photos.  But seeing this video brought me back to Tuxpan.  The cement buildings, the dusty streets, the plastic chairs.

And suddenly there was Laura, waving back at the camera.  She looks great.  And her husband Luis looks the same as he did 12 years ago when I was there.  Of course, Avril is a young woman now, not the child I knew.  I wonder if she'd remember me.  She was so young, I might not have made much of a lasting impression.

That time has had such a strong affect on my life.  For good and for bad.  Although the bad seems to have mostly faded with time.

Someday I might just find myself back there to visit.


Friday, December 29, 2017

Thirty-nine

So my friend Jack calls me up.  Invites me to meet him at a bar which is around the corner from my house.  I say "text me when you're there".

When I arrive, Jack and I chat for a while, then he suggests we join a group of people he knows.

This, by the way, is a "singles" group.  It's a meetup.com group I've been a member of for years.  I rarely go to their events anymore - in fact, the last event I went to was at this particular bar, with Jack, probably about a year ago.  So I know what I'm in for, mostly.

We join the group of people, and one guy gets introduced to me.  "John?" I ask after he says his name.  "No, Doug." Me: "oh, sorry.  I couldn't hear very well.  I'm old, you know."  It's ok to say this now that I'm old.  I say it with no irony or embarrassment.  It really is difficult for me to hear individual voices in an environment that has a lot of ambient sound.  "No!  You're probably the youngest person here!" he exclaims.

Oh fuck.  I've heard this for years.  I constantly praise my mom and the genes she passed on to me.  She is 76 this year and looks probably 20 years younger.  I follow in her footsteps and look younger than I actually am (50 years old baby!).  So I'm used to this sort of response.  And I'm constantly curious to know how old I look to people who don't know me.  Not out of ego (yes, there's some of that there, of course, I admit it), but out of honest curiosity.   I don't always have the best sense of age of other people.  Some folks who are younger than me I think are ten years older.  Some folks who are older seem to be my age or maybe a bit younger.  It's an interesting tidbit for me.

I chuckle and say "really?!".  Doug says "I'll bet you a dollar that you're the youngest here."

Ok.  I'm at a singles group meeting.  This is all window dressing and an attempt at flattery.  But I'm going to call his bluff.  Because it's amusing to me. Because it's a test for him.  "Yeah?  I'll bet you that dollar!"  And I stick my hand out to shake on it.  Of course, I know my friend Jack is younger than me, so it's an easy win.  But there's something else.  If you're going to come on strong like that, back your shit up.  Don't just feed me that line and think I'll fucking fall for it.  You made the bet - live up to it.

"Ok, um...." Doug looks around at the group, obviously sizing everyone up - trying desperately to decide if he's just painted himself into a corner that he doesn't know how to escape from, or if he thinks he's on the winning side of this bet.

Really, if he was trying to score with the girl, he'd take the damn bet regardless of whether he thought he'd win it or not.  It's an in with the girl.  Win or lose, he's got something to talk about with her afterwards.  And it's an easy bet.  But, as he himself said, "I'm also cheap", so the negative possibility of having to scrape a dollar out of his wallet beats his desire to connect with a girl.  He is not a betting man.  He doesn't take the bet.

"How old are you?" I ask.  "Forty-five" he answers.  I chuckle.  "How old do you think I am?" I ask.  "Well, I was going to say 39, but after your laugh, I'm not sure."  He looks very unsure and a little sick.  I don't bother to tell him my age.

The conversation fizzles from there, and he drifts off.

It's sad, this singles scene that I have access to.  Men who have no fucking spine.  Men who aren't willing to bet their shit, win or lose.  Because a small loss might equal a bit win.  But they don't seem to know that.

Is this a Pacific NW issue?  Or is it a cultural issue of our time?  I don't know.

But I'm willing to bet $1 that I might be single for a long, long time.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Feel your way forward

I had dinner last night with two of my cousins.  One cousin now lives here, one was traveling through with her family (husband and two teenage daughters).  We went to a nice Italian restaurant in a somewhat swanky neighborhood.  As with most places here in Portland, swanky means that most folks aren't showing up in sweatshirts and ball caps.  Most folks.  It was a neighborhood place, but the entrees were in the $20-$35 range.  Way beyond my budget, and not common for my neighborhood.

Not fancy, but not slumming it either.

My cousin who lives in Portland now works in the Tech industry.  He is in a special place with his work in that his last company was bought out by a giant in the Tech world, and he is being paid well for his previous participation in the company they bought.  As well as getting a pretty hefty salary for the job he currently holds.  So money isn't much of an issue for him.  Or rather, the lack of money isn't an issue.

My other cousin who was traveling through is married to an awesome guy (I truly am jealous of her for finding her mate).  He works in the trades, but it seems to me to be in the upper realm of the trades.  I was talking to him over dinner and trying to suss out exactly what he did.  I'm guessing he gets paid pretty well, although I'm not sure exactly what that looks like.  My cousin, in the meantime, is on her way to completing her Masters degree as well as working as a Career Consultant.  I have no idea what her pay is like, but what with two teenagers and grad school, perhaps their financial situation isn't as easy as I think it is.

The dinner check came and I figured my Tech cousin would pay for it.  But cousin's Hubby said he would pay this time since Tech cousin paid for a dinner for them the last time.  Apparently it was quite the dinner too as they all reminisced about it in glowing terms.  I have $68 in my bank account until payday, so I was hoping that my loving family would feed me this time, which they did.

But it all made me feel so shitty.  I'm fucking 50 years old and can't even pay for a nice dinner for myself.  I'm traveling to see my mom and sister for Xmas and my mom had to buy my plane ticket.  Every two weeks I get a paycheck and do my damnedest to pay all my bills ahead of time (expect my mortgage which is my biggest expense - pretty much 1/2 of my income).  Some months I'm able to come out a bit ahead.  Some months (like this current one) I end up with $68 in my account.

And here I will put my standard White Girl From a Somewhat Middle Class Family Who Now Owns a Home disclaimer:
Yeah, there are TONS of people out there who have it SO MUCH worse than I do.  Yeah, you can tell me I'm whining about something that could be classified as First World Problems.  Go ahead.  Get it out of your system.  I can take it.  I recognize the truth of that.

But this is my blog and I'm feeling shitty right now.

I look around me and see friends and family who don't seem to have money issues.  Most of those people are partnered, and have two incomes.  I seem to be the only one at my job who *needs* to clock the full 40 hours per week in order to survive.  Cousin's Hubby was complaining last night about only having 3 weeks of paid vacation a year.  Really?  Only three.  I have none.  I don't work, I don't get paid.  And it's been that way since I left my job in the tech world - last fucking century.

Which brings me to the conversation about my working life.  I've never thought that I would want to get or keep a job that paid me really well if it made me die inside every day.  I quit working a cafe job because it made me miserable.  And it certainly didn't pay my bills.  I walked away from the tech world because it wasn't a direction I had wanted to follow in the first place, money or not.  I left cabinetry because I was bored.  I gave up on full-time massage therapy work because it didn't feed my soul (nor did it pay the bills).  I chose at that point to go back into cabinetry because I knew it would be an easy transition.  But a year and a half back into it and I know I want out again.  I'm bored.  Again.  Which I knew might happen.

But now I'm not 100% sure of where to go next.  I'm looking into Project Management/Coordination because I can keep shit on track like a motherfucker.  I'm really good at it.  

And it happens to pay pretty well.  Which is no small factor at this point.

So receiving the "Ask Polly" email this week was especially timely.  It's titled 'I Can't Decide on a Career and I Feel Like Garbage'.  Granted, the woman who wrote in is somewhere in her 20's, I think.  And Polly says a few times that this reaction is common for folks of that age.  Aside from that oversight, the article seems to point to exactly what I need to hear.  Here's a part of what she says:
"Your dissatisfaction is a gift. Because you’re not going to settle for less than what feels right and makes you happy. You aren’t going to accept a half-assed career or a wilty marriage or meh friendships. You aren’t built that way. Sure, you’ll feel like the crazy one for a while, but it will get easier. Stop thinking yourself in circles and feel your way forward instead."

Although I don't feel like it's much of a gift at the moment, and I'm solidly in the Pity Party Mode.  Poor Fucking Me.  But it's good advice and I'll someday (hopefully soon) actually listen to it.

Fuck I wish I had a tried and true method to get myself out of this mood.  Sigh.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

How odd.

Watching Anthony Bourdain in Paraguay, looking for his great- great- grandfather.  I am reminded of my time in Mexico.  Probably as well fed, but with less traveling the country.  They are poor, like the Mexicans I lived with.  The town I was in.  It's familiar but different.  And there is a bit of sentimentality for my time in Tuxpan.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Exquisite torture city

There's something enticing about going somewhere you aren't familiar with.  Somewhere that you're a little overwhelmed.  A place that's somewhat familiar and yet different enough to tip you off your center.  New York City is like that for me.  Although I now have friends who live there and who could usher me around and keep me within  a certain comfort zone.

I've lived in Mexico, visited India, Scotland and Australia.  I felt that same bit of discomfort there.  But that was to be expected.  I was in a foreign country.  To feel that way in my own home country.... that is a special sort of exquisite torture.

And yet I continue to look for it from time to time.

I've moved around a lot, never spent too much time in one place.  I have friends who have lived in the same place for 20, 30, maybe even 40 years.  I envy them sometimes.  To have that consistency, to know the same people for so long, to have their environment embossed on their minds, their souls, so well that they know it down to their bones.

And now I've lived in this place for 15 years.  I'm on the cusp of knowing the place well.  And I start to think about finding a new place to explore.  I know I'll never know a place as well as if I had never left.  And I find my life richer for that.