Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Occupation Worrywart rerun

When I began approaching my birthday this year, I received daily reminders from the Feds and every insurance company in the USA of that fact. I will be sixty five on October 1st or 2nd, depending on which version of my birth certificate you choose to acknowledge. (For the Feds, it’s the first, but for the family, it’s really and truly the 2nd…and that’s the day my namesake grandchild was born! I’m still debating which my tombstone will carry.)

I’ve never had many jobs where you actually gave your social security number and got a paycheck with deductions for FICA and all those other things that we passively allow to reduce our take home pay. Many of my jobs were under the table in one way or another. I taught sewing in my home, made a number of fine crafts for sale, had garage sales, and was the resident real estate expert in the family allowing our net worth to grow every time I decided the time was ripe for a move.

My main job all these years, however, has been to be the family worrywart. The job didn’t pay much, but it put a roof over my head. I have been in charge of making sure there was milk in the fridge, peanut butter and jelly and bread in the pantry, pampers in the nursery, shoes that fit everyone and weren’t in need of polish…yes, we actually polished shoes back in my day...and that my husband and children and I didn't go out in public looking too weird.

I noted who needed their fingernails cut or a new hair style, although some of those in the 80’s were disasters! I'm down to only worrying about those things for the Walkers and myself now, and that's great by me. I sometimes have to do some convincing of Walker the dad when it's time to turn a nice polo into a farm shirt and replace it at the outlet mall, but basically they don't care because I do.

Through the years, I worried about which schools and camps for the kids to go to. When college came, I made sure the applications had all the I’s dotted and T’s crossed and that the girls all had a safety school, a fun school, and a stretch school to choose from. I had the privilege of worrying about how the tuition and mortage were going to get paid, what kind of car we could afford, and who had hamburger meat on sale. I worried about everyone’s health and happiness and probably always will.

Now I sometimes think I want to retire from my position. I’ve earned it and I deserve it. I just don’t quite know how to go about it.

I put more of the choices in somebody else’s court nowdays and let them figure out where to cut corners. If the budget won’t allow for a larger beach house if it’s actually in sight of the beach, whoever cares the most gets to figure it out. I only want a room with a king size bed and not to have to cook much.

My computer does a lot of our reminding now. It tells us which night is garbage night and when the pets need their flea medicine. It keeps up with the the doctor’s appointments and haircuts and social events. If the grandkids have sports and school events, they get covered if I know about them in time. I don’t worry quite as much about no showing things as long as I don't have a crash...yes it does happen, and I'm not at all good about backing up.

I will probably always be the one who notices whether the silver needs polishing or there are enough matching napkins and towels clean for company. I’ll be the one who cares when the upholstery needs to be replaced or the bushes need pruning and whether there’s really enough in the bank account to cover an unexpected expense. It’s my job.

I hope I see doing my job as a privilege for as long as I can do it and that when I really can't anymore I hope I'll cut the ones who do the worrying for me as much slack as they do me.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Flashback to Happy Days

This morning Walker brought down some old newspaper clippings he had found and as I was tucking them away in the box that holds my treasured memories, The Yellowstone Cub newspaper caught my eye. As I browsed through it I was reminded of one of the happiest summers of my life.

It was the summer I stayed up all night for the first time in my life and saw the sun rise over Old Faithful with some guy I no longer remember the name of. It was the summer my roomie, Marilyn Coon, and I hitch hiked over a thousand miles through Yellowstone, generally about 100 miles each time we had a day off, which was once a week. It was the summer I worked as a maid, waitress, and part time ironer (for 10cents per shirt) to make ends meet on the starvation wages we were paid.

I did not starve. In fact, they fed us entirely so well that when I arrived home, Mama commented, “You’ve gotten a little hippy while you’ve been gone.” I had discovered the yumminesss of Boysenberry Pie with full fat vanilla ice cream, sundaes with Marshmallow whip and chocolate fudge, and the joy of the restaurant cooks presenting me with a delicious meal every single night and a bagged sandwich for taking along on my adventures on my day off. Those Yankees used butter on their ham sandwiches, which was foreign food to me, but I got used to it.

The memory of trudging through the snow with a huge wooden cart loaded with linens into the never really clean Camper’s Cabins and smelling the remains of the wood from the stoves in the cabins comes back to me now and then. Every once in a while I’ll hear some old folk song like “This Land is Your Land” or “Blowin’ in the Wind” and sing along at the top of my voice and remember what it was like that summer. When I heard that Mary of Peter, Paul and Mary had died yesterday, I was reminded of a summer of enthusiasm for what I was doing.

I found friends from all over the United States that summer, and kept up with a few of them for a very long time. I lost track of most of my favorites, including Marilyn, though. She went back to Stanford, and I went home to marry Walker.

My friend, Kitty Nunn, brought her Western boyfriend back home to Alabama and they reared their family there. I wonder whether she and Brian ever realized that that summer would lead to a lifetime together. I don’t think I did.

I hope I manage to find time for the things that are fun more often and remember that someday these will be the good old days too. Walker would love to drive out West, and I’m at least considering it.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Stuff and Nonsense rerun

Walker got a nice bump in his take home pay not too long ago. Not sure why, but I’ll happily give the democrats credit if it’s due. The “raise” was only about twenty dollars a week, but it was enough to make him feel rich. I suspect it means his tax refund will be smaller or non-existent this year, but he doesn’t know or care about stuff like that. He now doesn’t have to decide which CD or DVD he can afford anymore…he just buys both.

We’ve ended up having repair men in and out for several days associated with getting Tivo for Walker. It’s still not operational, and he’s still wanting to know how we got those programs inside ours. Somehow, coincidentally, our machine died suddenly.

I’m kind of hating losing all those episodes “Calliou” I was saving for the kids and I’m really hating losing all those episodes of “Mad Men” I was planning to watch until the new TV season begins. I lost a couple of clips of Sarah too. Bummer.

They say it’s all free, because we’ve been such good customers, but my mind keeps wondering how much it will eventually cost me to have a guy here for going on six hours and still not finished hooking up a new dish capable of handling five…yes five!...recordings at once.

I really don’t look forward to getting to know the replacement. It’s been my experience that the new stuff that replaces the old stuff never seems quite as good. I only hope the print on the control is large enough to see and that the off button is in an intuitive place. I hope that being able to fast forward through the commercials gives us a little more time for something other than watching the TV. I don’t have the nerve to tell the guy, “STOP, I really don’t think we need this!” I wish I did.