Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What dreams may come

When my dog thumped his paws on the bed near my pillow this morning, sticking his little furry face way too close to mine, he interrupted a very odd dream.  In it I was on a job interview in Seattle with Chef Bobby Flay...only in the dream he wasn't a chef but a real estate agent. He took me on a tour of his office which was about 6 stories of stairs and winding hallways, and said he would hire me if I could find my way out.  Somewhere along the way as I attempted to do just that, I lost my cell phone but acquired a very nice bottle of wine.  I distinctly remember looking down at the bottle's label and saying out loud "this is a very nice bottle of wine". I made my way thru the maze of rooms/floors/halls to the outside only to realize I had also lost my car. Bobby drove me to a gas station where I used a pay phone to call my adult daughter in Texas to let her know I was safely out of the building and could she please send me a taxi. And that is where the doggie thumping shook me out of the dream. I don't know if I got the job or the taxi or a new phone. I didn't get to ask Bobby why he didn't lend me his phone or call a taxi for me himself and I never got to drink the very nice wine.

As I stumbled out the door to walk my dog, still thinking about the dream, I remembered just a few weeks ago that a friend asked me if I had vivid dreams and, if so, did I remember them.  She said that sometimes hers were wild and a little weird but when she tried to recall them all she could come up with was a general feeling of having had the dream but not the dream itself.  I read somewhere that the only dreams you remember are the ones you wake up in the middle of, which is a shame. It is quite possible we are all having the most amazing dreams all night long that we will never remember, only waking up to remember the silly ones.

I have had a recurring dream for over 30 years, although in the past few years it has changed slightly. In the late 70s I had read a Ray Bradbury short story about a man who was responsible for the balancing of the universe.  He had to put odd things in odd places in order to keep the world spinning the way it should. For some reason this story really stuck with me and in my dream I am responsible for keeping the world safe from utter destruction thru a simple task like raising the blinds or shutting the curtains. I would wake up in a panic because in the dream I have forgotten to do that one simple task and now the world is coming to an end. I would rush out of the bedroom to the kitchen or the living room or wherever the very important curtains were, heart pounding as I tried to correct my mistake.  Fortunately by the time I reached the blinds, I fully realized what an idiot I was being and that the position of my curtains did not hold the fate of the world. Since I started taking blood thinners a few years ago, the dream has morphed from me having to shut the blinds and save the world into a requirement for me to take my medicine and save the world.  I wake up in a cold sweat because I have forgotten to do that one simple task and we are all going to die. And yes, I get up out of bed, rush into the bathroom and it is only as I am reaching for the medicine that I remember that the world does not revolve around my taking or not taking a pill.

I have had silly dreams, scary dreams and dreams that are full of friends and family who are no longer with me. Those are the hard ones. I have never seen myself in my dreams but I hear myself frequently and very clearly. I sometimes wonder when I hear myself if it is because I am talking out loud. I read a blog by a woman who said she was so curious about her dreaming self that she set up a camera to film her sleeping.  I find that mildly creepy.  I don't really want to see myself thrashing about and talking out loud. I also don't feel inclined to have my dreams analyzed. I am happy to have them remain a mystery.

Hamlet said " sleep, perchance to dream, ay, there's the rub." Do you remember your dreams?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Time on my hands

If anyone had asked me when I was younger about the best time to retire, I would have said preferably 55, but 60 at the latest. I had visions of travelling to exotic places, lounging around on pristine beaches, learning obscure languages and taking painting lessons. Since I have never been inspired to do any of those things at any point in my life, I am not sure why I thought I would like to do them when I no longer had to work. Be that as it may, a couple of years ago, my work week hours were shortened from 40 to 25, not by my own choice, but by the person for whom I work. I resisted getting another job, imagining all of the fun things I could do in those extra hours of free time each week.  Here was my chance to semi retire, to still be in the workforce and yet be able to put those exciting plans into place. In addition to all the activities with which I would fill my days, I would also do all of my weekend errands during the week, in the mornings so as to avoid crowds, thereby saving tons of time. Best of both worlds, right? Imagine my surprise when I realized a few interesting things about being semi retired.

1. A shortened work week means a smaller pay check (big Duh! here).
2. Vacations, exotic or not, cost money (another Duh!) which I no longer have in abundance.
3. Yes, I have 15 hours of free time in the mornings during which to run errands, but really, how many errands do I have to run? I doubt I have 15 hours worth of errands a month let alone each week. And quite apart from the abundant errand running time, I found that:
4. There appear to be just as many people running around on weekdays as there are on the weekends! Who knew going to Target on a Wednesday morning at 10 would take just as long as going there at the same time on Saturday?
5. I don't want to take lessons of any kind whether it be small engine repair, painting or origami. I'm just not a lesson taker.  I also am not interested in taking classes or attending lectures. I did enough of that in college to last a lifetime.
6. Although I have enjoyed being able to go to late morning breakfasts with friends during the week, I can no longer go to lunch. I miss going to lunch. There are a lot more choices at lunch and it serves as a nice little break in the work day. (If you sense a little whine here, you would not be incorrect) Ladies Who Lunch sounds so deliciously decadent. Babes Who Breakfast, not so much.
7. Did I mention a smaller pay check?

What I am most proud of during this enforced down time is that I did not fall into the habit of sleeping in. Sadly I cannot take credit for that as my dog is an early riser and very demanding with regards to his morning walks. He likes to have his pre-breakfast walk at around 6:30, 7 at the very latest, and then only if he has stayed up late the night before. So, apart from the myriad errands that required running, what did I do this last 2 years with all of my involuntary free time?  My house is no cleaner, nor is it better organized. I cannot claim to have spent the time on self improvement or giving back to my community or inventing a wonderfully inexpensive widget that will revolutionize the world.  Instead I read books. Lots and lots of books. Oh, yes, and I started writing this little blog...

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

On leaving a job you no longer like

All of us who have held jobs outside the home have at one time or another had doubts about that job. When you first begin a job, I think it is normal to have a can-I-do-this flutter of nerves. If you are starting with a new company, maybe you wonder who among the people you see inhabiting the cubicles around you will become your friends and who will remain just co-workers or even (unfortunately) your enemies. It's an important question considering you may be spending 8+ hours a day with them. But the most important consideration of all, is your future boss.  Will you like her, respect her, envy her, despise her, pity her? Will her attitude toward you and her management style not be an issue or will they begin to grate on your nerves until you want to find a good place for a primal scream?  I suppose most of you reading this and certainly those of you who really know me, can see where this is going.  But before you roll your eyes at what could digress into a rant, I have a story to tell you. A fable, if you will, about listening to your doubts as you interview for a new job.

Once Upon a Time, 15 years ago in the Land of Washington State, a woman replied to an online advertisement for a job that sounded like it was right up her alley. (Now days people say "in your wheelhouse" but I have never cared for that saying although I am not sure why.) She wasn't looking for a new job, she had one that, while not perfect, was pretty good.  But she saw the online ad and emailed her resume to the potential employer, then was pleased when she got a call setting up an interview.  Ok, I am going to stop saying "she" and admit that the story is about me. (Surprising, I know!) I drove over an hour to the interview, understanding that I would have to move when I took the job.  It never occurred to me that I wouldn't be offered the job. I had almost 10 years of experience in the field and was supremely confident of my ability to solicit the job offer. The interview went as they are wont to go, the prospective boss asking pertinent and sometimes obscure questions, while I answered in a reassuring manner and touted my past jobs and how I was sure I would be an asset to her business.  I wasn't distressed by her parting comment about how she needed to talk to one other person before she made her decision.  I knew and she knew she would be calling me by the next day and that when she did, I would accept.  After all, I had gone there to get the job, not be interviewed. And that, my friends, is where I made a huge mistake. I was too focused on the goal, the job offer, and completely missed some warning signs. Don't worry, this story doesn't end with her being a serial killer, just a fairly self centered micromanager with little or no respect for employees for whom I have little liking and even less respect than she has for me. Over the past years, I have looked back on that interview and some of the stories she told about herself and some of the remarks she made about what she expected from an employee, and have realized, I should never have taken that job.

I tried to quit 3 or 4 times within the first couple of years and each time I caved under pressure and the rewards she offered if I would stay.  As my daughter put it, I was distracted by the sparkly things. So yes, I realize I have no one to blame but myself for now being in a job that I have come to dislike working for a person who fails to support me. I have exhausted friends and family with stories and complaints but am proud to say I have finally reached the point where all the incentive in the world will not keep me in this job. And that, to me, is very sad.  I have always been an optimist, preferring to believe that things will surely get better, or at least not any worse, and I have more than my share of stubbornness (by golly, I will make this work!). But sometimes even an optimist has to admit defeat.

There are several reasons to keep this job; the ability to work remotely from home, the expense of moving to an area where jobs are more plentiful and therefore pay better, the uncertainty that I can (at my age) secure a job making close to the same amount of money, the cost of having a work wardrobe when for years I have only had to have a very causal one, gas money, drive time...and only one reason to quit. Happiness. I have the right to be happy, at home, with friends and at work.  I am fully aware that many people work their entire lives never liking what they do or who they do it for.  But I think 15 years doing it is probably 14 years too many. 

I admit I am a little bit scared of what will happen in the next several months, but a little bit excited, too.  Thomas Edison once said, "We will have no better conditions in the future if we are satisfied with those we have at present."  It is scary at any age to make drastic changes, but at this point in my life I believe it will be infinitely scarier not to.