Monday, June 11, 2018

Time and tide

I've got to get my brain wrapped around the possibility of change - big change - in my life.  Figure out what I'm afraid of, what I'm willing to try out, what I'm not willing to let go of.

Greg and I have been talking about going Long Haul Trucking as a team.  He's done it before, for about 7 years, so I'd have him to rely on for experience.  I'd have to get my CDL, but that is apparently fairly easy.

But there is the house to think about, and Choba.  Greg's brother might be an option as a house sitter for the first couple of months - just until I get the feel for the work and decide if I want to go full time for a longer time period.

We are considering having Greg get a Long Haul job and bringing me along as a passenger.  I didn't know that was an option, but Greg says yes.  That would give me an opportunity to check out the life with out much commitment on my part.  We'd be reliant on his income alone (there's a first for me!), until I either decided to join him, or move back into the house and get another job.

I like this idea a lot.  I dislike my job so much and wouldn't mind never going back except to get my tools.  And I'd be able to test out the Long Haul lifestyle.  Regardless of what we do I have to get a new job, so if there is a month gap in my employment while I'm testing it out, what is the difference?

What is slowing me down at the moment is waiting on Greg to get some things organized on his side.  He would need to get a Long Haul job.  He needs to see if he can get a schedule that would work with some commitments he has here in town.

So there is some frustration for me with having to wait.

But there is also hesitation about jumping into another adventure where I have to almost completely rely on another person for my finances, my safety, my daily existence.  I did that in Mexico and it was painful.  Twelve years later I'm still affected by some of my experiences there.  I'm still gun shy, still untrusting.

But this isn't Mexico and it is Greg, not that other guy.

I feel close to making a decision.  And once I make that decision a different kind of impatience will arise:  I will want to immediately make the change, not wait any longer.

Guess we need to figure out how to do this quickly......

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The one that got away?

I met a guy online.  We talked on the phone before we met face to face.  I was unsure, but figured one beer and an hour of my time would be a reasonable risk.

We talked for 2 1/2 hours that first time.  He was interesting.  He had a very difficult life but seemed to have risen above it.  There were things he was still dealing with, but he was well on his way, he was on a good path.

The next time we hung out, we talked for 4 hours.  We both stayed up past our standard bedtimes (we both work early in the morning, it's not just because we are old!).  He said it was a worthy investment.

He was cute, in a big teddy bear kinda way.  But his life had made it's mark on his body.  Some of that was less than cute.

We talked, we hung out, he met a few of my friends.  We hung out at my house, in my neighborhood, never his.  I was pretty ok with this.  But I didn't realize it was a small sign.

He asked me to be his girlfriend.  It was way too early.  We had only known each other maybe two weeks.  I said no.  He considered walking away at that point, he told me later.

He seemed to be awed by me.  Or fascinated.  Or.... something.  I felt like I was the driver of the relationship.  He was trailing behind me, being fascinated.  "Oh, let's see what she does next!"  For a while that was fun.  But I was always in front.  I started to feel like a draft horse.

He was interesting.  I was curious about him.  He seemed to be a "what you see is what you get" kind of guy.  He wanted to learn how to be a better person.  I told him what I knew.  He drank it in.  I started to feel parched.

We had good times.  Yet I held him at a distance.  I too had scars from previous relationships and wasn't willing or ready to receive more.  And I was unsure about him.  I had 70% / 30% split feelings.  The percentages weren't good enough.

We talked one day and were going to get food.  I said I would meet him at the restaurant rather than having him pick me up.  I needed me time.  He said ok, but called back 10 minutes later saying he was going to skip it.  I heard it in his voice.  He was thinking of walking away again.  Tipping point time.  I said ok.

I sent him an email that evening saying that I was never going to be the woman he wanted.  I think I wanted to say that I didn't think he would be the man I wanted, but it felt too cruel, too final, and I didn't want to take the blame.  It would have felt too final.

I left it open to him as to whether he wanted to remain in contact, to be friends.  He replied that he felt differently (I'm skeptical), and was going to keep his distance.

My condolence is that I got to be the bad guy.  Perhaps it made him feel better.  I don't think he wanted to walk away.  So maybe I gave him an out.  Or maybe I'm making that up to make myself feel better.

Of course I miss him.  I miss the conversations we had.  I miss flirting with him.  I miss the attention.

I fill in the gaps now.  The gaps that could have been a blind spot for me.  In a previous time I might have been able to overlook those gaps, and fill them in with what I wanted.  That ability has hamstrung me before.  It's why I was so defensive this time.  I didn't want to fall prey to my own traps again.  So I looked honestly at the 30% and decided it outweighed the 70%.  I want better percentages.

But boredom and loneliness go back to their old habits and now I fill in those gaps.

So far I've kept myself from contacting him again.  My fear being that those gaps would be even more apparent now, and seeing him again would only solidify my conviction.  And I would hurt him even further because I would solidly reject him while perhaps he was thinking there was hope.  I'm not that cruel.

Or would I see that the gaps weren't that big after all?

Perhaps I've made a mistake.  Perhaps I've been too judgmental.  Perhaps I didn't have enough patience.  Or perhaps I was right.  The only way I can think of to clarify this for me is too much of a risk to his feelings.

So I have to just sit with this for now.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Put in her place

I'm tired of being told, in ways obvious and subtle, by the men around me that I'm not doing things right.  That I'm not good enough.  Not strong enough. Not talented enough. Not knowledgeable enough.  Not enough.  Lesser.

This week was difficult at work.  I'm so tired of the dysfunction, and I was letting it get to me.  I've been working on a project which has allowed me to block out my coworkers for the most part.  It's been nice.  But it's given me a lot of time to think, which can be a dangerous thing.

I looked around the shop and examined each male there.

Jim has his own shop within the shop, essentially.  I was looking at his space and it's probably 1/4 of the whole shop.  He is a curmudgeon, and no one really wants to interact with him, which includes walking through "his" area.  Mike, the owner, thinks Jim walks on water, so he gets tons of respect, and gets away with being a dick.  Dane, the manager, hates Jim, and the feeling is mutual, so there's no control on Jim from that corner.  Jim has his situation set up to work perfectly for Jim.  He's got space and controls who interacts with him.

Mark has worked at the company for 30 years.  He's dealt with Mike's personality for so long he's obviously built up a thick skin for it.  He's good at what he does, and also has Mike's admiration.  He has a chunk of the shop as well.  Not quite as big as Jim's, but spacious nonetheless.  I like Mark.  He's cheery most of the time, and easy to approach.

Jeff is an interesting case.  He's petrified of change.  He worked for his last company for 20 years.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing.  But added to some of his other behaviors, it shows a pattern of calcification.  He is a nervous little critter, but he's a producer.  Give him a project and he'll get it done.  He also has a habit of taking over any flat surface within 30 feet.  His bench is right next to mine.  So most of the space around me is taken up by his work.

Marlin is a good friend of mine.  We worked together at another shop, and I dragged him into this place.  He is good at what he does - I call him the Master of Minutia.  This is a good thing in fine woodworking.  His bench is on the other side of mine.

My bench is situated at the bottle neck of the shop.  If I use any floor space, I'm blocking the main thoroughfare.  Compare this to Jim's space.

Dane, the manager, has used me as the main on-site manager for the work we've done at Nike.  Not that that gives me any authority or power or control.  It just leaves him off the hook for actually having to be on site and being responsible for the work done there.  He is still the point of contact for Nike people.  I was shown this pointedly this week.  Dane is going to be out of town this coming Monday and Tuesday.  We need to go to Nike on Tuesday to do some work.  I suggested that Dane give my phone number to the point of contact at Nike so that he could reach me directly in case plans needed to change.  Relying on Mike to pass along pertinent information is sketchy at best, so I figured that if I was the temporary contact, that would take care of things.  Dane hesitated.  He didn't want to give my number to the Nike guy.  The only reason I can think of is so that he feels like he can maintain some sort of "control" over the situation, to be sure that he was seen as being useful.  Which he isn't.  He ended up cc'ing me on an email to the Nike guy.  Lame.

Having worked in a male-dominated industry for so long, and being a tomboy since my teens, I am comfortable doing "male" things, like lifting heavy items, hauling garbage out to the dumpster, loading heavy things into our piece of shit van.  But it never fails that the guys (Jeff in particular) will walk right by me when I'm doing some task that I could easily walk away from, to ask someone else to stop what they are doing to help him lift something.  Dane does this too.  Jeff actually asked me on Friday if I needed help putting something into my car.  As if anything heavier than a purse was beyond my abilities.  It's insulting.  Mostly I let them lift the heavy things because if anyone is going to break their back doing something, I'm fine with it not being me.  But for fuck's sake.

So I have the smallest space in the shop.  I am useful to take over a certain level of responsibility, without the corresponding respect or control, in some situations.  I am obviously a weak girl who needs help on the basic parts of my job.

I don't think my boss quite knows how to interact with me.  He rarely talks to me unless I'm in the office (where our female bookkeeper sits).

It all adds up to a grumpy Laura.  Fuck this place.  I get no respect, a large reason is because I'm female.  And my attitude sucks.  But who could blame me?  I need to leave my job, and soon.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A previous episode, in a previous series, and a previous life

These are the words of Anthony Bourdain, at the beginning of an episode of his show "Parts Unknown".

It echos for me.

I've been wondering if it's time for me to change.  Change my job.  Change my career.  Change where I'm living.  Change how I'm living.  Change my attitude.

I was talking to a friend who is also a woodworker.  His goal has been to achieve the status of working at a furniture place, like the one we both currently work at.  He has never wanted to do something else.  He is happy, in a way.  Happy enough to put up with the active disfunction that imbues our company.

I listen to him and I wonder if I'm the anomaly.  I get bored.  I need to change.  Others like to stay where they are at.  Some of them are happy where they are at.  Some not so much.

I am neither happy nor interested in staying.  I need that change.  And I need to acknowledge that it's not a bad thing.

There is apparently a part of me which wishes to fit in with those around me.  And there is a deeper, more primal part of me that just doesn't, won't ever really, fit in.  That's the one I want to follow now.

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.