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Saturday, May 18, 2013

It's clouds' illusions I recall......

I am reading a book titled "Rachel and Her Children."  It was written more than a decade ago, but the words resonate still.  Only in the book it is Reagan and his administration being vilified, but we only recently heard the same sentiment from a certain Mr. Romney.  The book is a factual report of the plight of the poor and the homeless in the U.S.  It is shocking but that is a subject for another blog and another post. 

But it causes me to take stock. It also fills my heart with gratitude for where I am now because there was a time - quite a long time - when I was just one step away from that world. I don't think that "Astoria Story" gets that point across. I think I should rewrite it. Everyone should read this book.  It is enlightening and important. I don't believe you can read it and ever feel the same way or listen to the inane and cruel rhetoric and lap it up ever again. 

So, I take stock.  I reflect.  I've looked at clouds and love and life from both sides now. (Joni Mitchell) Funny, too, that this week, out of the blue, the ghost returned yet again.  Someone may be trying to establish a false identity - the dead former wife's. We got some very strange phone calls.  Nice.  I asked my husband to change the phone number five years ago.  He wouldn't. He saw no reason. He saw it yesterday.  The next book is going to be a freaking page ripper when I get to this stuff.  I may have to label it for adults only if only for the  epithets. And still I wander and digress.

The events of the past several weeks have been interesting.  I got laid off.  Not fired, mind you, but laid off.  My former employer is probably patting himself on the back for what a wonderful thing he did. I got severance and my accrued vacation and my health care for a year.  The f-ing healthcare that is drowning me in bills.  He just didn't want to pay someone to work for three days a week.  (He has a nurse who works three days a week and is a giant slacker, but that's ok).  So I am not yet officially eligible for retirement and I am not officially disabled.  I am in limbo. 

I will be speaking to my doctor about disability when I see him which isn't for awhile because I had an infection ("Infections, sometimes fatal, may occur") and could no longer take the medication I was on that allayed the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.  And I now know how much that medication was helping because it is an effort of will to move.

I am just so heartily disappointed in the people and place that I worked.  A medical institution.  But, like the disenfranchised in "Rachel and Her Children" it's nothing personal. I was just a cog in a giant machine.  I raised a disabled daughter, I provided health insurance for my family, I kept a roof over our heads and food on the table.  But, ultimately, I feel so useless.  I did stupid work. I pushed paper around.  I answered phones. Granted, I had to use judgement, but, the only people grateful were few and far between, a few exceptional patients.  I hated my job.  I always hated it.  Always.

The first time I was close to homeless I was very young (22), divorced and temporarily in my mother's house.  There was no question about me leaving.  No question.  I had a sister who knew a chiropractor who needed a secretary.  What the hell does a secretary do?  Had I gone to college, stayed in college, and worked - I could have been a teacher who retired years ago. Sixteen when I graduated from high school with a dysfunctional,  almost non-existent family, I had no support, emotional or financial, and no direction.  So I took the job.  And I became a "medical secretary" for the next forty years.  Do I regret it?  You bet I do.  At the same time, I had no idea what else to do.

The second time I was almost homeless was right after my former mother-in-law said that we would "be in the streets."  I did worry about that and by god, I wasn't going to let her win.  I could live without her lousy son who sucked every dime out of what I earned. But I was worried and lived on the edge the whole time I was in Astoria.  That part will be in the next book.  Let's just say it was easy to keep my girlish figure.

I DID get that dog.  He is a rescue from the south, about two years old, a black and white pointer/hound.  The first couple of weeks were a little rough because he was afraid of everything.  EVERYTHING.  But we have settled into a routine and he is feeling safe and his dopey personality is starting to blossom.  He gets so absolutely delighted when I offer him a dentabone that he doesn't know what to do with his body.  The paws go up and down and his head goes side to side and his tail wags so hard his back end wiggles, its hilarious.  His name is Harry and we are becoming family.

And that little girl who was diagnosed with autism at age six now has a Bachelor of Science degree. Although she still has social deficits she has come so very far and I am quite proud of her. 

Now I have to figure out what to do with and how to do it for the rest of my life.  It's amazing how long it takes to adjust.  I've been sleeping lots.  And nooks and crannies of the house that hadn't been cleaned in forever have finally been spritzed, wiped and shined.  I still don't have a grasp on a regular routine for myself and I need to enable another computer so I can work.  The nice thing is that now I don't feel like I have to rush.  Just breathe.  Breathe, walk, gaze........."It's life's illusions I recall, I really don't know life at all."

"Both Sides Now"  J. Mitchell