Inner Bitch Alert

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This year I’ve been broken open – by life – by circumstances – by the economy.  I went through the phase where my heart was an open pulsing wound that felt and empathized with everyone’s painful process.  Shelter animals positively reduced me to rubble.  A stumbling osteo-arthritic elderly person evoked loud sobs.  I’ve missed my mother, who died recently.  Still.  Always.

I’m the woman who paid the  fares for drunken persons who staggered onto the bus exuding alcoholic fumes and confusion. I’m the woman who always held the doors for strangers and who stopped to speak to the elderly in my apartment building. Who gives money all the time to the man outside the bodega dressed better than I?  That’s right, you’re getting the hang of it.  I’m the friend who helped friends find work and paid the check when my friends faltered.  I’m not mean spirited a la Real Housewives of New York Aviva and Ramona feud.

Of course, I’m an anonymous blogger and you have your opinions. I can only blog my truth.  There are exceptions, for instance,  I wasn’t all fuzzy toward my ex-husband when he deserted me and stole my money. I did not however, call the police after he’d thrown me around the apartment one evening like a dog toy.  I didn’t hire a forensic accountant to find out how eleven years of  his income had mysteriously disappeared accompanied by the $150,000 bonus that he received prior to our separation. Stupid, I guess, but not mean spirited.  I sued the employer who fired me upon being owed $25,000 in commissions.  I’m empathetic, not a complete chew toy.  But the universe has had other ideas.  And she has helped to unleash a honking, smack talking, impatient, better-not-give-me-that-look bitch, bitch. My inner bitch is clawing furiously with manicured nails, and she is demanding attention now.  I’ve never been a mean girl but watch out!

My tender tendencies somehow morphed into a general impatience and yes, rage.  Now I honk and flash drivers who are too slow to react or if they have the temerity to rubber neck – a disgusting habit.  I resist the urge to run down the jay walking, texting pedestrian oblivious to my green light.  I’ve no patience for the online date who calls 7 times a day when I’ve told him that I’m interested in friendship only.  Then I berate myself.  Why am I angered when someone is offering friendship and solicitation?  Is that such a terrible thing?  Maybe it’s because I know that there is a distinctive ulterior motive.  I’ve listened politely as he expanded on how our relationship will blossom.  Nice words.  Wrong guy.  I think of the online misfits who said they’d call, then disappeared.  The man who emailed me three times after our first date to tell me what a wonderful date we’d had and how we would do it again soon.  Now I was attracted to him.  Did he call, email, text, or send a carrier pigeon with missile in beak to my apartment, five blocks away?  No.

I called an old friend who I bailed out, took out, celebrated and generally propped up more times than the USA has supported puppet regimes.  I told her I was down.  I listened to a 45 minute tirade on how she’s all about “manifesting”, and how she just manifested a neck lift. Clearly, my “manifester”  was off and I was, in her opinion, subsequently failing at life.  I listened to her ranting, after all, she knew how to get her neck lifted.  Forget that she has a younger, high earning new husband paying the bills.  Anyone can sock away $8000 when they’re living rent-free.  Was she really telling me that I should learn from her about life manifestation when I needed support and friendship?  Tell me that you’ve cured MS or was blind and can now see.  Don’t be talking elective surgery smack to me when my heart is on the thrashing floor – blood run out.

So I bite my tongue when I hold the elevator door for you, your toddler and cute old dog.  I know that you’re juggling a lot. But so am I.  I’m still overly impatient on cues and don’t abide the 8 foot tall person who sits in front of me in an empty movie theatre. I have to physically restrain myself from catapulting my body at them in a full frontal attack.  Please don’t talk on your cell during the movie.  Don’t cut in front of me on the street then crawl as you start a protracted conversation with your gynecologist, BFF, or other.  Don’t complain about your mom, you’ve still got one.  I beg of you not to walk in front of my car when the light is green. Avoid from clearing my plate while  I still have a piece of linguine stuck in my tooth and when I’ve been waiting for a water refill for the entire meal. Don’t tell me that movie prices have risen, once again.   Don’t complain about your job, your raise, or about how the economy forced you to forego one of your six vacations this year.  Don’t steal my mail, unless it’s a bill.  And please don’t talk about how one million dollars won’t cut it for your retirement fund. My retirement plan is a quick heart attack.

So shoot me.  My bitch has finally been outed.  Some may say that it’s about time.


The important thing is not to Freak Out

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New York State taxes believe that I owe them an additional $1,000.  American Express never received my $658 payment for July. I have two holes in my mouth, think broken crowns, that coordinate nicely with the enlarged holes in my overwhelmed head.  My tidy little sum of unexpected expenses is now approaching $4,000.  Can I freak now?  Oh and my recent debt consolidation at 0% interest shows an additional $4,200 that I didn’t borrow.  This is too much for an underemployed girl who hasn’t had a proper vacation in five years.

I summon my inner goddess but she’s too busy screaming to hear me, think Edvard Munch.  I take a deep breath, from a cigarette – unfortunately – and weigh my options.  Is is time for a clean sheet of printing paper and hastily composed suicide note?  I’ve already sold my jewelry.  Dog walking?  But I’m a cat person with no boundaries.  My cats are dominant and they tell me what to do.  Though I’d lose weight walking dogs and make lots of new canine friends. Then I think of the predictions for a snowy winter.  I’m not that hardy.

I’m glad that I don’t have a BP machine handy because my pressure is escalating to dangerous levels.  Really, we weren’t designed to live with this level of stress.

I just narrowly missed out on two career opportunities.  Surely another one is just around the corner holding a tin cup with a sign, but still solidly standing.

When you feel that life has you by the throat enumerate the people, places and things for which you are grateful. Be generous and creative here.  Count your fingers and toes. Hell, count your hairs if you really need time to calm down.  Grab a cat and insist that they cuddle with you until your breathing slows.  Have them declared an emotional needs animal so that they can accompany you everywhere.  Call your last boyfriend or x-husband and tell them how well you’re doing now that they’ve vacated your life.  Take a tour of a nursing home and challenge a senior to a three legged race.  Tell them that they can use their wheelchair only if strictly medically necessary.  Ask for a refund from the well dressed man in front of the local bodega, you know the one always begging for change, the one to whom you’ve always given a dollar. Take a stroll through the local emergency room for perspective.   Write a long and rambling email to your therapist enumerating the problems that you’ve yet to address.  Ask him//her for a refund. Laugh out loud simply because. And remember that someone always has your back and you hope it’s God.

Don’t stress the small stuff.  But this seems global warming proportions huge.  I’m trying everything to supplement my income and have the sleepless nights and darkened eyes that attest to my earnestness. So when you’ve done everything that you can think of including taking a hard line with your expenses, put the cursor to rest and allow yourself some restorative sleep.  Hmm a massage would be nice, but that’s not in my budget.  Living isn’t really in my budget, but what’s a girl to do.

Okay, I am speaking with two people about jobs tomorrow.  Surely that is a good sign. Fluff up your pillows and tell yourself that you mean business.  Spray your sheets with some alluring but comforting aromatherapy that will aid the sleeping process. Turn that scream into a smile and remember that your best day, best job, greatest score could be just hours away.

Sleep well!

Don’t be fooled by the moniker, unemployed. Not working is hard work. In fact, it’s downright exhausting. I’ve been looking for additional work to supplement my consulting income, for one year now. I’ve been hired then told that they had a hiring freeze. I never learned how you can have a hiring freeze on a commission only job. But that is one of life’s mysteries that will remain unsolved, like why men are attracted to bitches or why blondes don’t really have more fun.

How can I be so impossibly, someone just kill me already, tired, when I’m not working?

Don’t be fooled by the moniker, unemployed.  Not working is hard work.  In fact, it’s downright exhausting.  I’ve been looking for additional work to supplement my consulting income, for one year now.  I’ve been hired then told that they had a hiring freeze.  I never learned how you can have a hiring freeze on a commission only job. But that is one of life’s mysteries that will remain unsolved, like why men are attracted to bitches or why blondes don’t really have more fun.

Last year I had more work than I could handle and more energy to meet the demands of clients all screaming for more business.  I haven’t had a break in my schedule for well – over twenty years.  Let’s just say that free time is not free and it’s not fun without money.  THere are just so many times that I can walk into the Met Museum and flourish one dollar for my entrance fee before the guy giving me the fish eye demands that I pay the suggested price.  See, it’s not so amusing finding amusement in New York when you’re worried about petty things like retirement (LOL).  I just figured they’d roll me from my desk, with my hand clenched around my i phone trying to make my next deal, right into the wooden crate that I’ve allowed for my remains.  It’s hard to get serious about retirement when you’re not working.  Retirement presumes assets, wealth management and other grown up phrases that elude my current reality.

I know it exists because my sisters’ outline their assets in the midst of remodeling and refurbishing their homes.  They’ve assured me that they have no room for me.  Thanks sis, hope I can return the favor sometime.

So I keep haunting the job sites and sending upbeat updates while camouflaging the fact that I’ve nothing new or great to report, to my contacts.  It seems that we’re in a recession, depression economy, which doesn’t respond favorably to experience, work ethics or anything else.  Is it any wonder that I’m exhausted?  Worrying tends to cut my productivity by about 50%.  But that’s not news.  Frankly there are days that I just don’t want to get out of bed, permanently.

There’s a new job trends.  It’s called commission only – nice words for a dirty business – working for free.  Everyone has a job, but it’s commission only.  Seriously?  What Romneyesque genius decided to start a trend where the people who are keeping your business well, in business, shouldn’t be paid for their time?   It’s a remarkable phenomenon and about as interested in job growth and career satisfaction as Bain Capital.  But hey, a corporate raiding parasite is running for President so maybe it’s not just me.  Maybe, just maybe, everything is as fucked as it seems.  I’d be able to deal with all of this if I wasn’t so tired.

Seventy Shades of Sadness

Sadness has a sound and color. The sound is grief, the color – mist.  Significant shadings cast the tone that eventually settles into a distorted self- image.  It is not an image that I want to carry or acknowledge.  Security is something that has eluded me during the span and experience of my years.  

I collapsed emotionally last year, after losing my mother, step father, and 2/3 of my income to an unforgiving and unrelenting economy.  I’d cried to a God of my understanding to have compassion, but his arm, it seemed, was stretched forth in continuous retribution for wrongs that I’d not committed.  Was it the Roman Catholic upbringing that cracked beneath a withering onslaught?  The marriage that I’d worked to secure had shattered a decade before.  My profession, media sales, was under attack.  Jobs were scarce and men were rare.  I listened as my sisters’ discussed their firm futures with husbands and savings in place.  I envisioned myself years hence shuffling through a welfare hotel, sharing cans of cat food with my precious pets, who bore witness to my anguish and comforted my sleepless nights.

Pain was a constant companion as I tried to work out the angles of an incongruous, impossible equation. How was I going to find the wits, the skill, to rebuild my life again, in my late forties?  I started selling pieces of jewelry, grateful that my obsession had been for something that retained some value.  One cherished piece after another was placed onto the scale and weighed in the balance.  The ring that i bought in Mykonos, the bracelet that my mother had given me the first Christmas after my divorce, the weighty gold chain that my mother had pressed into my hands, saying that this was an expensive piece, cautioning me not to lose it.  Could any of my negative selves have imagined that I’d be bartering these memories for another month’s mortgage, maintenance? That I’d be negotiating time with time, hoping that I’d get another job before my gold had run out?

Where do you go when you feel that your options are slim?  I’ve tried to go to grace and hope.  I’ve promised myself that I will do my best each day.  I will respond to appropriate jobs, go to the gym, be patient and kind to myself.  That is challenging.  If I take the right measures, then surely right results will follow, I think.

My sister berates me from the depths of her secure throne.  She hasn’t worked in ten years but she offers career advice.  Find another profession.  Do something new.  Go back to school, she admonishes with a sting in her voice.  Sure, and I’ll bring you back a golden unicorn horn at the end of my journey.  How easily one can dispense advice when calling from within the shelter of an over protective, solicitous husband.  She tells me that she no longer feels any connection to our older sister and my small family fractures a little further.  The holidays loom, silent and unforgiving.  Where are the packages and lights, the people from earlier years?  She is not judging but she reminds me that our eldest sister did not attend my mother’s funeral mass.  I was too numbed by grief to remember.  Could that possibly have happened?  Did she really not come to my mother’s services?  No, she didn’t.  A splintered family splinters further until no shapes are left but the breath of ghosts.  How have we been so diminished?  We were rarely happy but we had a small devoted unit that managed to survive the dysfunction and chaos.  We are now the older generation, having laid our cherished and flawed elders to rest.  Who will now lead the way?

Swimming with the Seals

I’d forgotten that life is an adventure and a journey until my older sister called me into the chilled Atlantic Ocean yesterday, inviting me to dance with the seals. Their sleek heads bobbed like mink on the ocean’s surface, before disappearing into the magic water world that they inhabit.  “Clutching my pearls” is how one gay friend describes my reticent sexuality.  Perhaps reticent is not the correct adjective, not the right vibe.  My sexuality has been stunned into silence after choosing several lethal partners with emotional problems too deep to fathom.  Maybe the playful seals have the answer, I thought, as I bared my overly white flesh to autumn’s forgiving sun.

I don’t recall having seen my sister naked before.  I watched as she frolicked before me, just out of reach, with the splendor and vigor of a much younger woman.  I admired how her body curved in definitive and forgiving ways that did not acknowledge or salute the years that could have weighted her beautiful body.  Her dark head, sleek with salt water, bobbed beneath the surface as she encouraged me to embrace the experience.

I’ve been waiting for the right lover.  I’ve been waiting for the right moment. The passage of more than forty years weighed heavily on me as I decided not to let another opportunity pass.  The water tingled and exhilarated my flesh as it sluiced playfully between my breasts and legs.  I laughed into the sun and tried to race with the seals who remained visible, but out of reach.  I felt present and completely alive in that moment.  I could have trod my familiar path of regret, worn and dulled by a gray unforgiving patina.  Rather than mourning the partner who hasn’t materialized, the job offer that I haven’t gotten, the life that my younger self envisioned – I embraced the moment and felt more truly alive and grateful for my body than I have felt for decades.

I saluted my younger self who looked on with embarrassment but also with a hint of pride.  My younger self was too aware of her beauty with a self-consciousness that belied her years.  I forgave my no longer flat stomach and the fullness of my breasts.  I was grateful for the weekly hours in the gym that allowed me to run on toned and muscular legs to the sea – the forgiving and gracious sea – that sings a steady rhythm that I can count on – even when all else is fleeting.

Beaded Bracelets and other Musings

I’ve heard that beaded bracelets are the rage now.  I even purchased a power set of green, gold, and wooden beads completed by Buddha charms, a dangling tassel, and gold beads this weekend despite my economically challenged bank account.  I am thinking about signing up for a jewelry beading class.  Thinking of the holiday gifts that I will present to grateful friends and the money that I will have saved by designing and threading the beads.  My life needs some threading and design, I think.  It seems that I can’t take a class for that.

I live with the haunting certainty that everyone else understands and manipulates life with a deft authority that I lack.  I believed that life got better as one aged.  This horror show is not getting better.  I was strengthened by the certainty that my talent and reasonable intelligence would earn a job that I enjoyed that paid well.  And surely I would meet a decent human male after the wreckage of my divorce.  Hadn’t my friends married and built ‘successful’ lives during my single interment?  Honesty compels me to admit that I’m confused.  Hard work, personality, charm, have failed, and I struggle to approximate some continuity, consistency and purpose for my life.

I really do listen to advice.  I’ve learned to notice how the scent and feel of my cat’s fur against my chest comforts me as I fall asleep.  Coffee positively delights me.  I’ve even gained a grudging appreciation for a select few Reality Shows, when I manage not to use them as further proof that my life has failed. And I deeply appreciate a small group of friends who have listened patiently to my ranting.

I wanted to prepare for my future, like a reasonably well-adjusted adult.  But it seemed like I was always in survival mode and I squandered the opportunity to think about – well – middle age and God help me, what comes after.   I want to envision a positive future but I’m not feeling all chirpy and encouraged right now.

I want to pray, really, I do.  But I seem to just whine at God before remembering that spirituality is not about getting what I want, but wanting what I have.  Spirituality is about gratitude and joy.  It relates to profound relief that I can walk and run and go to the gym and strain my muscles against resistance.  I am thankful for the familiarity in my friends’ eyes.  My ears hear music and my feet can dance.  So why can’t my spirit soar despite the circumstances?  Is it only a question of choice?  I choose to be happy and recognize the blessings in my life.

I remember that it takes but a moment to change a life, and a decision to start transmuting negative patterns.  I close my eyes and remember the whispering sound of the Aegean.  I feel Mediterranean sun on my face.  I fall asleep in the midst of snow’s muted shadows.  I remember and I smile.

I Dated Nosferatu and had Another Job Interview

I admit it – the shorter daylight hours – how the sun floats behind the pre-War Upper West Side New York buildings at 6:00 PM – rather than 8:00 PM – has me down.  Honestly, a plethora of circumstances – seemingly immutable – have gotten me more in the mood to pull the duvet over my head, after taking a healthy dose of sleeping pills.

My therapist tells me to have patience, not to project the future.  But my 12 year sojourn through a travesty of dating and poor job choices have left me at the crossroads of nowhere and how did I get here?  I know that life presents challenges, but I’ve bottled enough lemonade to serve the Upper East Side community where I live, until the Second Avenue subway is finished.  I’m more excited about the subway since I anticipate increased property values and an easier commute – much easier.

So after a notable absence from the dating world, I dipped my cursor in the playing field and posted a personal ad. If you have a better idea, I’d like to hear it.  I’ve met a number of eligible men recently who attracted me to varying degrees.  One was a libidinous 32-year old – definitely hot – but he wanted sex basically in the office where I was working for a brief stint.  Then the equally libidinous Columbia professor who wanted sex after offering up diner and somewhat stimulating conversation for six hours.   There was the sexy photographer who bore a resemblance to Harrison Ford, but he was HIV positive and wanted to date only in that pool.  I weathered these disappointments with humor and equanimity.  I responded to more ads.  I went out again with few expectations.  Then I met Nosferatu – a pleasant man whom I suspect lied about his age, who is divorcing a lovely woman because – well he never really explained that.  We shared a hamburger, think about retirement and the failing economy, but I couldn’t concentrate on anything but his skinny, bony, pasty hands. These were not hands that I would welcome into my bed, or anywhere.  Chemistry?  Zero.  Naturally, Nosferatu is devoted and wants to prove that he is a worthy contender for my heart’s throne.

How, I ask myself, do I turn away someone who so generously is offering an ear and nascent devotion? I told Nosferatu that I was interested in friendship, which he accepted as encouragement.  Am I asking too much?  Never one to fall in love, or lust easily, I’ve at least known the thrill of mutual attraction.  Is it time to get a bone density screening and shuffle off with bony hands?  Divorce has taught me that it’s better to be alone than with the wrong man.  I need to remind myself of this when I’m alone watching some patented network fare, wondering if I should settle down with Ben & Jerry or send out another resume.

I knew that life had rough patches, I just thought that they, like everything else, ended.  This recent expanse seems intolerable.

And I had another job interview today.  My interviewer waited until I’d driven over an hour before telling me that the salary was 55K.  The last time I entertained a salary in that range was my early 30’s.  Yet I need a job.  I enjoyed a 2 – hour rush hour commute where I debated the pros of accepting such a job. Surely I can earn as much doing something else without the laborious commute.  Can’t I?

Life lobs curve balls at your head, I think but I am determined to remain positive.  Surely a better opportunity for me is just around the corner.  So I’ll send out another resume, stay limber at the gym, take some boxing lessons to address my escalating aggression and wait for a better day.  It could be tomorrow.

Weekend Break: Looking for a Job or Losing my Sanity Which will Happen First?

I believe that my journey across the divide can comfort, perhaps inspire, others in similar situations.  People have been discombobulated, disenfranchised and marginalized during this economic downturn, or shall I say, collapse.  MBA’s, PHD’s, fraternize with interns as they grasp, once again, the first rung of a ladder that they’d climbed successfully only years before.  One’s involvement with life is defined in part by their contribution.  Psychic income is a powerful motivator.  But what have we been contributing to – a grossly enlarged golden parachute for C level executives?  Have we created better lives or working environments for ourselves or our children?

Romney fattened his pockets and fed his children through dismantling companies after burdening them with impossible debt, taking his profits and moving on. Great article: I thought that we created in America.  I thought that creation was part of the American Dream.  As long as stocks rise and prices are inflated, we’re all happy, right?  But when we sit back with a glass of Scotch or chilled martini what do we behold?  Have we created art?  Have we contributed to the sustainability of the American Culture, or are we halfway to Prada, or Blahnik to festoon the visible signs of our collective looting?

These issues are too complex for me.  I know that I’m a talented businesswoman who has played a large role in building several businesses and that I shouldn’t be fretting over where my next gig will come or when it will come.  How does one circumnavigate the pitfalls without compromising their beliefs?

Still when all the debates have been debated and the talking heads are silent, I’d rather be browsing online for a ticket to Paris and discussing Thanksgiving plans with my partner.  Maybe we’ve all settled for less.  And therein lies the difference – the flaw in the equation that doesn’t add up when we take a moment to review our life.

Day Seven of Sixty Searching for a Job or Losing my Sanity; Which will Happen First?

I had a job interview yesterday morning.  I was interviewed by a surly, egotistical “VP” who was approximately 12 years-old.  May I say that my resume was vetted and that I passed two tests before they moved me along the employment chain to the goal of the first interview.

I had the immediate uncomfortable feeling that he had dismissed me based on age discrimination.  I am a forty-something year-young professional.  I’d done my homework, had studied their history, case studies, networks.  This #6 rated faster growing company had a small and narrow office space framed by two windows at either end of the office.  The windows were extremely dirty and covered with the frenzy and grime that Manhattan can generate while accomplishing all that is accomplished within her parameters.  My prospective employer slouched during the entire interview and seemed genuinely disinterested in a candidate that they had spent a lot of time and money to qualify.  I presented him with a partial list of my agency contacts and accounts that I’ve been cultivating.  When I asked if I would have the opportunity to continue with the interviewing process he said yes and that I would be meeting with the General Manager next.

I returned to my home office, relieved and encouraged and fired off an email thanking him and the recruiter for their time, reiterating why I would be the best candidate.  This morning I received a form e-mail stating that despite my impressive background they had decided not to pursue my candidacy.  Age discrimination?  I wrote back that I would appreciate additional feedback.  None was forthcoming.

I donned my pink boxing gloves and went to the gym where I vented my frustration with a combination of boxing and kick boxing moves.  How did we come to the point where we, as a culture, accept such rudeness as the norm?  I believe that I was entitled to a response and some constructive criticism.  Perhaps they had no criticism.  Perhaps I was highly qualified for the job but they wanted someone younger, blonder, sexier.

Searching for the right job in this slumbering economy is arduous and deflating.  Ultimately it boils down to attraction, like anything else.  Either a person feels that they want to work with you, or they don’t.  Qualifications, contacts, experience, don’t necessarily matter in this economy.  The candidates who are passed over are possibly lumped into Romney’s 47% who feel entitled to government aid, don’t want to pull their weight.

So I’m on to my next interview, my next contact, my next application.  I answered an ad for the OWN network today.  Now that would be a dream job.  I could participate in a vision and enterprise that deeply resonates with my core beliefs.

I’m deserve to have a challenging job that inspires me.  That was supposed to be a part of the smudged American Dream.