never married, over forty, a little bitter

the simmering

I’ve been cleaning house today and thinking of all the work I put into this place. I spent a lot of money and effort getting the former tenant out; painted the walls and cabinets and had numerous repairs done; moved furniture cross-country, had other furniture moved from my mom’s place, and spent hours buying yet more furniture and getting it delivered; hung all the pictures; dealt with a pest infestation; got the mail box keys straightened out and extra keys made; found specialty light bulbs for the fixtures; bought curtains and new blinds; purchased and installed the AC filter; had knobs installed on the cabinets; stocked the kitchen with dishes and cleaning utensils; got a TV, cable, and DVD player installed; and purchased all new cleaning supplies.

At the time, I was fine with doing all the work, as my roommate had a full-time job and was also having back problems (another sign of internet addiction). His contribution? He got the internet hooked up. He called the company where I found my bed and had them deliver one for him (he had been living in an apartment with nothing but an air mattress for the preceding year). He wanted darker curtains, so I suggested he find some or have some made; instead, he hung a sheet over the window. Then he settled onto his back, surfing the net and belching.

To be fair, he didn’t have friends over or otherwise cause a lot of noise, and he wasn’t particular about anything with the condo, so I tried to count my blessings.

Yet when he took my job misfortune as a lucky sign that perhaps I’d have to move on and he could buy this place for himself, I finally saw the light. I raised the rent to market rate (he was paying way below market, with no lease or deposit) and insisted he at least do one chore each week– clean the small shared bathroom. I had to remind him to do it, and he would pout.

As soon as his new promotion was secured (at my former organization again, ugh), he decided to buy a place of his own in this same building. He gloated about his new job and the good favor he had curried with administration, and every time he heard I might be applying for a position, he decided maybe he should apply for that particular promotion himself. Then, of course, my last reminder to clean the bathroom set him off into a volcanic rage of insults, which finally brought me to coming clean about my own disgust and resentment.

I sent him an email and gave him a letter stating that he has thirty days to move on; we are currently ignoring each other. It’s a shame that he’ll be living in this same building and yet we won’t be able to rely on each other, but every time I think of breaking the ice, I realize I am still angry. I block him out 99% of the time, but when I think of him, I don’t feel I have the ability to “make nice.”

bouncing back

Yesterday as I stood outside my dance class I noticed a poster for study abroad opportunities through the language classes that I’m taking. I felt a surge of enthusiasm and rushed home after class to investigate. Turns out the timing is off for my schedule, but it was nice to know I still have the ability to bounce back from disappointment.

One of those disappointments is that I’m guessing I didn’t get the job I recently interviewed for. I know there were about a dozen candidates, all strong. The thing is, several years ago I recruited one of the interviewees to work on a team I was leading, and we got along quite well and had some big successes. Another one of the interviewees came to the opening of my biggest project in L.A. If those kinds of connections are not going to get me a job here, I may well be sunk.

The situation is especially difficult for me because a number of my friends here are former co-workers and are still employed at this same organization. I can’t vent to them too much, and although I’m trying to keep it light, I’m afraid an uncomfortable rift might grow, and this city will start to feel unwelcoming. At the moment I actually have nobody to unburden myself to about all this, so here I write.

In any case, I signed up for my first shift of farm work this week and have my work shirt, boots, and gloves at the ready. By Christmas I will have accomplished many of the things I set out to do with this time off– a small trip, a cooking class, sewing classes, language classes, and a volunteer stint on an organic farm. Over the holidays I’ll do some traveling and see extended family. Perhaps I’ll revisit the idea of self-publishing a book from this blog next month.

When I attend interviews, the interviewers of course discuss topics like supervising others and managing the general public. I’m not gonna lie; it’s been incredibly nice to have a break from all that. My stay-at-home friends have NO IDEA how difficult public service is in this day and age. I know this because now that I’m at home, all those problems are mostly invisible to me as well.

While on the one hand I feel healthy and vibrant from this time off, on the other I often feel lonely and adrift.

If still unemployed in 2014, I’ll have some big decisions to make. I could stay here and continue on with language classes– I’d have at least two more semesters to go– and take whatever kind of temp job I can find. If Obamacare turns out to be the real deal, I’ll have more freedom to do so. I could give myself until fall 2014 to consider moving elsewhere (and going back to my former organization in L.A. will still be a possibility).

Or I could just throw in the towel on this place the first of the year. I’m sure my roommate (who hasn’t moved out yet but to whom I’m no longer speaking) would be thrilled to see me go.

I guess I’ll take my temperature in December.

the herd


Notice that we didn’t mention climate change above, or the exploding population/consumption levels that are triggering it — the two major factors threatening humanity’s future. Sure, if you’re not too far from the Western wildfires or Midwestern floodplains, the conversation might have turned to the crazy weather that is finally forcing some media to actually talk about climate change in the context of daily events.

But population? Get out. Way too inconvenient a truth. Take National Public Radio, for example. Of NPR’s sparse record of population pieces, just one or two actually address unsustainable population growth. But as the political right whittles away at family planning clinics across the nation, the latest NPR series, “The Baby Project,” devotes a plethora of articles to pregnancy, with the most serious subjects the problems some women have conceiving and birthing. If there is even a hint of too many babies, it is well hidden. This, even though a 2009 NPR story on U.S. pregnancies reported that half — yes, half — of all U.S. pregnancies are unintended. That’s a lot of unintended consumers adding to our future climate change.

And that’s what the right calls the “liberal” side of the mass media. The politically conservative U.S. mass media cover unsustainable population levels even less.

That pretty much reflects the appalling state of U.S. public education today on population. The U.S. approach to population issues across all levels of government, in terms of such things as education, attacks on family planning and tax deductions for children, is an exercise in thoughtlessness. The ramifications, however, are far more insidious and brutal. Women are culturally conditioned daily to welcome the idea of having children — plural, not one or none. How to support those children economically is not discussed. Indeed, our abysmal lack of adolescent sex educational programs ensures there will be plenty of young women who secure their destinies, and those of their babies, to brutal poverty and shortened lives through unwanted pregnancies and lack of choice. The latest available statistics from the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan tell the story: 1 in 5 American children lived in poverty in 2008; 1 in 3 if they were black or Latino.