Uphill, Both Ways

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During one of the tightest and most uncertain periods of our life — not the worst, which was when older son was born, Dan lost his job and there was nothing around that even resembled what he used to do but not very far off — we were talking to an old friend who had invited us to dinner, and we were talking about a lot of our circle caught in the same vise-grip.

“I’m not worried about you two,” our friend said.  “You’re the luckiest people I know.  You’ll fall on your feet.”

This made us stare because the joke in the house is that if we didn’t have bad luck we wouldn’t have any luck at all.  Note the reference above to the worst period in our married life.  Can you imagine a worst time to be unemployed than when you give birth, in a complicated emergency caesarean?  Or to be worried about money than when you are ill and have a brand new baby?

Me either. But there it is.  Our life tends to work like that.  Later, when I was writing, it was guaranteed that if Dan lost his job my series would also be terminated and everyone would close their doors to me.

I didn’t argue.  You can’t argue people out of this sort of perception.  But it was almost as flabbergasting as meeting a high school friend and being told that in high school she’d been jealous of me because I always had a boy on the string.  I attended an all-girls school. And though I developed early, the stuff inside the head came very, very late.  I didn’t even know enough boys to have on the string.  I had an unavailing platonic pash for one of my brother’s friends between 14 and 18 and wrote him over 200 sonnets.  If he’d asked me out on a date I’d probably have panicked and run.  I lived 90% inside my head with occasional peeks outside to make sure the coast was clear.

I went on my first dates at 17 — and ran — and had my first kiss at 18.

Ten years after I figured out what she meant.  There was a boys school across the street and boys called out and sometimes followed us to the train station.  Looking back, there were some persistent shadows.  It’s entirely possible that one or two just as socially awkward boys followed me and made what my mom called “ill killed lamb” eyes at me.  I’d not have noticed.  It wasn’t within the realm of possibilities for me, yet.  But if my old friend was more sexually aware and dying for those pathetic glances, she might have envied me.

OTOH it’s possible she imagined it.  Considering I dressed in my brother’s old sweaters (with leather elbows), scruffy jeans and work boots, she probably imagined it.

In the same way it took me a while to figure out why someone would consider Dan and I the luckiest people we knew.

And then I realized when we hit a rough patch we panic.  We do the equivalent of “fight like a cornered cat” but with job searches, money making ventures and taking on random work that might pay (and sometimes opens other avenues of success.)  You see, we’re both very security oriented, and even if there’s still money in the bank, or if there’s a payout from former job, or whatever, we want “security for a year.”

So at the slightest bobble, we go nuts.  The times Dan has been unemployed (usually because something awful happened to the company or the entire industry) he sends out ten to fifteen resumes a week, ranging from bullseye appropriate to “reach above” to “things I could do till I find a job.”

2003 was the closest I’ve come to being completely unemployed. Lots of people were, then in my field. Because that’s when the fallout from 9/11 hit.  And loony as it seems to look at the — then, I’m sure it’s worse now — worst quarter in publishing industry hitting thousands of authors at once and think “it’s the writers’ fault” the publishing system really had no other way to assign blame for failure.  By the numbers, the book failed, you fired the writer.

To an extent they had a point too, because back then the ordering to the net system meant all those names were dead forever more.

Which is not to say that it was just or made any sense.  It was just the way it was.  Which is why trad pub is now failing… by the numbers.

Anyway, Dan was unemployed too, as his traveling job had not endured the strangeness of post 9-11 flight cancelling and delaying (it was weird for about a year.)  Which wasn’t a big sadness, as we’d calculated we could live on half his salary and it would be worth it, because well… we both hated being apart, and the kids hated it even more.

And of course we’d just moved and were paying on two mortgages while I got the old house ready for sale.  (So this time we didn’t buy before we sold and I’m not sure it was the right thing to do. We still had to move because you can’t sell a house with four cats in it, and the year renting was just wasted money. Never mind. If we’re allowed — none of them was intended except one in 34 years — we’ll reduce it to a cat, maybe two, and take them out with us when the house shows, if we need to sell this one.) Of course we were.

The writers mailing lists I belonged to were full of threats of suicide, sobs over lost long-running series, general despair.  Someone was very upset her agent expected her to write a completely different proposal.

Dan was sending out resumes, asking everyone we knew (he stopped short of buttonholing strangers in the street, but not by much) if they’d heard of a job. He was looking for short term pay-by-the project work to make do meanwhile.

And I was doing the equivalent. I contacted a book packager I knew and asked he send me anything remotely related to what I could do.  I contacted my friends who edited anthologies and asked for slots.  And I buckled down and wrote 17 proposals (detailed out line for first book, first three chapters, five or six short outlines for subsequent books.  About 100 pages give or take) for 17 different series, in three different genres.

It all came back together — of course it did — so I sold 15 of the series over the next 3 years (the shelved ones were for stupid reasons.  Apparently I was so panicked I proposed a Merlin murder mystery series.  I have read Arthurian stuff, but talk about your rabid fans.  It would take me 3 years to research so they wouldn’t hate me, and frankly I’m not that rabid a fan  The other was for Leonardo da Vinci mysteries, which at that time got returned with “these aren’t the da Vinci Code” which obviously they weren’t.  I’ll write them sometime.  Yes, there’s someone else writing those.  I haven’t read them, on purpose, because I intend to finish mine.  But I’m sure mine will be sufficiently different.  Different is not a thing I have a problem with.) Meanwhile I got enough short story invites that year I made 5 thousand dollars. And I wrote a book for hire, and ghost wrote two books.  While these didn’t pay crazy money, they kept roof over head.  And the series I sold kept me making a middle class income for the next 5 years.

And Dan found a job from a bizarre concatenation of circumstances.  And because he asked.

So, we fell on our feet, sure.  But what you didn’t see was the made scrambling up the cliff face on our bleeding fingernails.  It’s who we are, it’s what we do, partly because we hate insecurity, and it’s worse  as was then, when you’re responsible for small children, and partly because we don’t expect any luck.  So we go out and bombard everything possible in attempts to shake some money loose.  We really should print cards for those occasions that say “we also walk dogs.”

I found out recently one of the ghost written books (for an author who was critically ill and willing to pay for someone to fulfill her contracts) which I didn’t even know the final title of because it was written through three layers of secrecy, made someone else’s career taking her from mid list to bestseller.  She’s been going on in that series ever since.  No, I can’t say more, because it would be opening myself to lawsuits.  I only know because I bought the book from audible and then stood transfixed, in the kitchen I’d been meaning to clean going “oh.”

When I found this out, my friends thought I was very upset, but I wasn’t.  It’s actually a relief to know something I wrote had that kind of result for someone else.  It means I haven’t had that kind of event for other reasons than my writing: possibly the politics thing, possibly because I’ve been too ill to push consciously, possibly because I’m really bad at kissing butt at publishing offices, but mostly I think luck.

Not that my “luck” as people will think is anything to sneeze at, with over 100 short stories published, and 34 books I can admit to in a 20 year career (since I sold first book, not since it came out, which was 2001.)  Most careers in my field last 3 books and five years.

But it wasn’t luck.  It was mad scrambling on sometimes bleeding fingernails.  I don’t know how much of the ill health of the last 20 years has been the result of scramble and stress.  I know the last three years have been the result of stress causing multiple auto-immune attacks.  It seems like (knocks on head) I’m in the process of resolving that.

Oh, yeah, and I did all this while slowly turning more and more hypothyroidal, for 23 years, which reached disabling levels 10 years ago, and should not have allowed me to write at all.  (It really affected my memory.  I kept having to turn back to remember my characters’ names.)

For those who haven’t experienced that wonderful condition, besides making you gain weight and making it impossible to lose, the condition also gives you what’s known as “brain fog.”  It increased until the last three years before it was treated (three years ago.  So, six years total. And honestly until my dose was adjusted this year, to some extent, just not as bad.)  It’s like being unable to wake up.  Until I got treated, I was up to three pots of coffee a day, just to get something done.  (I’m back to a cup, sometimes half a cup, because I forget the cup half-full.)  Oh, and yes, I was being tested, sometimes twice a year because the “hypothyroidal mask” (sort of a moon face, with your eyebrows receding towards the center) and the pallor were a give away but the problem is they only measured how much thyroid precursors I produced, not what I was doing with them. My autoimmune attacks the precursor for t3 and turns it into reverse t3.  (This isn’t exactly right, but I don’t have the right words and it rhymes.)

Technically I wrote all my books while half awake.  And honestly I shouldn’t have been able to write them at all.  But what else was I going to do?

From the outside this looks like “luck” and yes, there are people who were sidelined in 2003 and who think I stayed on with some “trick.”

Sure, there was a trick.  I panicked and scrambled.  It’s a highly reproducible trick for anyone.

I’m not telling you guys this to ask for pity for mah victimhood.  Dan and I have been married and real adults for 34 years.  Sure there have been periods of mad scramble, but over all it’s been great.  I could have done without 20 years of diminishing capacity, but no one asked me, and I got very lucky to find a doctor who could figure out what was wrong and adjust my thyroid before I died.  One of those true pieces of good fortune.

I could wish the career had gone better, but that’s fairly irrelevant now, that there’s indie.  I’ve been moping and lamenting that this should hit when I’m in my fifties, not my twenties, but I made the mistake of saying this in an older friend’s hearing and she put it in perspective with “Try seventy.”  And she’s right.  Besides, with the thyroid adjusted, I’m getting back all the crazy energy I had at twenty.  (The intensive exercise and diet also seems to help.)

So, in a way, I’m at the beginning of the story, with all of it yet to write.  And the kids are ALMOST off our hands too (look, long training for complex professions, okay?) So in a year or so, I should have more time and, for lack of a better term, mind space.  Always barring illness and death of course, which in our fifties, must be taken into account.  But my ancestresses lived to their mid eighties with no or crap medical care, and again diet and exercise are helping.  So let’s hope I have another thirty years, because I have SO MUCH to do.  And thirty years, honestly, is a career.  And hey, when son worked at hospital (in his gap year) he saw a ton of people over a hundred.  If I WORK at the health, I might get LUCKY and be one of those and have forty or fifty years left to write and build.  Who knows?

What this post was in name of was to show the mad scramble behind “falling on your feet.”

It seems to be true that looking from the outside we assume everyone else is “lucky.”  Because, remember the commercial from the seventies?  They don’t let us (either on purpose or through chance) see them sweat.

The problem is that people don’t see you sweat.  Perhaps those people who never had to struggle for anything are more prone to imagining that others have it really easy, and therefore they melt at the first blow of misfortune and assume they’re not “meant” to succeed.  (I’ve seen it with a lot of colleagues and a few friends.)

And then there’s whole multitudes that our media and school system have convinced they are mistreated, whether that makes any sense or not.  The notions of “white privilege” or “male privilege”, the notion of invisible racism or sexism, the notion that somehow people you don’t know and who don’t know you are conspiring against your success. There must be a vast number of these people who buy into this crap, because no one NO ONE who has experienced the real thing and/or not been indoctrinated to ther eyebrows would believe the notion that we live in either a patriarchy or a white supremacy.  Anyone who thinks so has been wrapped in cotton and fed garbage.

Tons of people try to attribute my reverses to “foreign born” and “has accent.”  And, hell, maybe it’s true, but so what?  You push on and try harder.  What else are you going to do?  Only infants and crazy people think the whole world can change to suit them, instead of their trying another route to success.

Everyone has reverses and trying times.  The only people who don’t know that have been molly coddled and spoiled from birth.  And even for them, luck eventually runs out.

The difference is in how you face them.  Oh, sure, it would probably be best if I approached mine in the serene confidence I’ll overcome.  But that’s not me, so I approach them crazily, with fear and horror and scrambling.  But I work to get out of it.

Believing everyone but you lives golden lives produces poison and envy, which corrodes the soul and disfigures the personality, turning you into the sort of person who can’t succeed.

Don’t do it.  Instead, try clambering up, on bleeding fingernails.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t advance for a while.  Just don’t stop trying, and don’t blame anyone else for your troubles.

Yes, sometimes it’s bad luck.  So what?  Others have their trials and many still manage.

Just ignore set backs and work harder.  And then you too can always land on your feet.

 

 

 

 

 

79 responses to “Uphill, Both Ways

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Tell It Sister Sarah!!!! 😀

    More seriously, I’ve found that one of the worse things somebody can to is “think about everything that has gone wrong in your life”. This isn’t thinking about how to prevent those mistakes from happening again. It’s called having a “serious case of depression”.

    As for “thinking the world is against me”, Been There Done That. I work at not falling into that trap again.

    Oh, years ago a woman I worked with shared a comment her counselor told her.

    “Isn’t amazing that all those people you don’t know are talking about you and plotting against you.”

    It was said in a humorous way to her and she repeated it the same way to me.

    I actually laughed out loud because it could apply to me. Oh, my co-worker thought my humor was appropriate. 😀

    • Good way to short-circuit a pity party, too!

    • I find I occasionally need to remind myself of the things that went right, or even a few that failed, but in some bizarrely good way.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Comfortable apartment

        Crazy Dog that sometimes wants me to love her

        On-Line friends. 😉

      • That pretty much happened when my semiconductor job went away. HP spun off semiconductors with other lines, and the new company (Agilent) spun us off when the dot-com V1.0 bubble burst. I did a bunch of resumes, complicated by 9/11 happening in mid-search, but an opportunity opened to consult for a tester company we’d been using.

        This was well compensated, and lasted about a year, when they went toes up. (Protip: if a company does a new headquarters building in mid-recession, that’s a huge red flag. In this case, it broke the company.) Still, I had the money, and with $SPOUSE also unemployed, we had enough manpower to remodel the house.

        It took a year (had to redo two walls that were termite-eaten), but we got it on the market with San Jose in decent shape for real estate, but our target location was in a slump. We made an offer on the place, contingent on selling the SJ place. It was accepted, and everybody figured we’d close in November. Wrong. Got an offer, with a close date of 2.5 weeks. Mad scramble and multiple storage units, but we made it.

        We got the stuff moved and had enough money to do what was needed and to keep us alive until we could access our retirement funds. You could say it was luck, but there was a hell of a lot of hard work to get that luck and to make it viable.

        We actually have decent air quality this morning. It’s the first time in a month we can actually do cleanup. Yeah!

      • Me, too. I was absolutely heartbroken when the AF personnel weenie responsible for my career field did not give me my druthers for my final active duty post. Our field was a small one, and it had been the understanding for decades that your last assignment in uniform would be at your first-choice, so that you would have a chance to set down roots, purchase a house, line up a post-active-duty job … all that.
        I wanted to go back to the unit at Hill AFB – I had good contacts there, loved the unit and mission, they LOVED me, I had a line on coming back to the rental house in a good neighborhood, good prospects for a job at the local public radio/TV station …
        I went to my third choice instead. Had some skinny years when I had to work at a call center, but eventually fell into partnership with a local publisher … and took to writing historicals about Texas, so it all worked out in the long run.

        I still miss the look of the Wasatch Front, and the aspens in fall, the look of new snow, the cherry tree in the back of the house that I loved. And I still am pretty pissed at how I got treated in the long run by upper management in the military broadcasting field … but it did work out.

        • I went to my third choice instead. … so it all worked out in the long run.

          When you fall in the crapper it is wise to keep your mouth shut and your arms and legs moving.

    • As for `thinking the world is against me` …

      It is. The principle of Entropy assures that all your efforts will come to naught. You’ll never get out alive, and in one hundred million years nothing you achieved will prove to be of consequence.

      • BUT, it isn’t personal.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Nod.

          The thing is that a person who believes “that the world is against him” sees it as the world (or other people) as personally “out to get him”.

          That’s why the “joke” I mentioned earlier works. It made my co-worker think. The world is against me means that I’m so important that the world (or other people) make it its/their business to harm me.

          My co-worker wasn’t that far gone and I don’t think I was ever “that far gone” to really believe that.

    • Psychiatric advice right up there with: “Stop it! Or I’ll bury you alive in a box! “

    • When I was a froshling, a call came into my dorm room, my roommate picked it up, said, “It’s for you,” and handed it over.

      The call ran, in total, “Shame on you, whoever you are, you lowdown scum.”

      It made my night. Because this was only a month or two into college life, so I could look back over everything I’d done, and realize that I hadn’t done a single thing I was ashamed of. So the caller just crystallized a feeling I’d only recently started to understand, that some people can hate you for no particular reason* and that it had nothing to do with ME. I got a mood bounce off of that for days.

      *I only realized decades later that this was probably a case of “my boyfriend called her cute and so SHE’S STEALING MY BOYFRIEND.” I’ve run across that once or twice and it’s pretty blinkered. (As was I, in terms of noticing male attention.)

  2. So, we fell on our feet, sure.  But what you didn’t see was the made scrambling up the cliff face on our bleeding fingernails. 

    People do not see the whole of what goes on in the lives of others.  Somewhere along the line most of us have realized that everyone’s life come with struggles, no matter how nicely they present themselves to the world.  We still do not experience the ongoing fears that plague others, that serves to distance the inner turmoil from us.  Our fears might just be different ones, and that can keep us from grasping the extent of the disturbance in other’s lives. 

    I think it is somewhat protective.  If you really felt, fully felt, everyone else’s pain how could you go forward? 

    This is why I don’t believe the SJWs — if they really did feel the pain of the world it would kill them.

    The thing that people see in you is that however hard the world has struck you, you and your family continue on. A good life is made by how you live in all times, and that includes hard times.   (Never give up — Never surrender. Live Human Wave in real life.) 

    • One of the complaints about Facebook that really bugs me is that “people are so fake, they make their lives look all nice but it’s really a mess!”

      Uh…duh? It’s supposed to be “Stuff I want to share,” not “here’s all the horrible things in my life, look upon it and despair!”

      • See, the translation of the complaint is “I’m one of the Elect. All the other Elect always tell me so. I have a Degree (in advanced bushwa). I’m important. Soon we will be running the world. But my life is a mess (no surprise) and how DARE all these nobodies put up a good front instead of confessing their inferiority and making me feel good.”

  3. Neil Ferguson

    Just what I needed to read. Thank you!

  4. Guys in general don’t look at the clothing a girl is wearing so much as we look at the girl wearing the clothing. Based on the photo or two you’ve provided, you were a notably above-average maiden in beauty along with your brains*. It’s almost certain that you had quite a few boys staring at you with hopeless longing, which would be what your high-school friend noticed.

    *Ask your husband if you need confirmation, I’m pretty sure he can remember that young-you was prettier than your photos.

    • Yes altimatewriting, most of us men, when we look at our wives see the woman we married as she was then, hard as it is for women to believe. Of course there are schmucks, but that’s their problem, and yours if you’re married to one, but that’s not most of us.

      • My point was more that men look at the woman first and clothing a distant second. Old shirts and scruffy jeans wouldn’t have deterred longing looks from the high-school students.

        -Albert

    • Many years ago I met Our Esteemed Hostess and her husband at Raven Con. The the look in his eyes as he watched her was truly heart warming to behold.

      • Heck, guys were after me in junior high and high school. (Maybe even before, which would explain some of the elementary school nastiness.) And I guarantee that I was more careless of my looks than you were, Sarah!

        That said, it’s also true that younger guys tend to be more interested in girls who see boys as persons. This is often seen as an unfair advantage by girls who never had brothers or male playmates.

      • OT: Still avoiding Raven Con, which seems to have lurched left after John died.

        • At the time it was the one time that Our Esteemed Hostess and the Incredible Kate Paulk were within reach, and The Spouse thought it would be a great diversion as I was at a pause in chemo preparing for yet another surgery. I had enjoyed it thoroughly.

          If they have gone ‘woke’ since this greatly saddens me. As I go to cons for particular guests if they continue in that manner I guess that there will be no further reason to consider attending. …

  5. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Letting myself be persuaded that good grades might be a sufficient factor for success was a mistake. People may have been expressing a more complicated idea than that, but what I heard was the simplified version.

  6. To quote Heinlein:
    A man does not insist on physical beauty in a woman who builds up his morale. After a while he realizes that she is beautiful — he just hadn’t noticed it at first.

  7. Sarah, when we were young, my Father-in-law said to my wife that he envied us for not caring about money. She was flabbergasted. I was just in my first full-time professional job that we had moved 100 miles from home for. My wife was still traveling back that hundred miles once a week for 2 days while staying over with my parents, so she could teach a night class while she was applying for a full-time teaching position closer to our new home. Before that first full-time job we had both worked 2 jobs while I was going to school full-time with one car that we drove into the ground.

    It wasn’t that we didn’t care about money, we just cared about God and each other more. It is sometimes very interesting though to see others perceptions of you, especially as a writer.

    Here’s wishing you the best of health from now on. You will probably never get all your health and energy back, but I always try to remember:
    “We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
    One equal temper of heroic hearts,
    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

  8. “meeting a high school friend and being told that in high school she’d been jealous of me because I always had a boy on the string.” Reminds me of Connie Willis’s story Chance, in which a woman finds herself back on the campus where and also when she attended college, and encounters her former self.

    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/16168.html

  9. Sure, there was a trick. I panicked and scrambled. It’s a highly reproducible trick for anyone.

    Pretty much. I try to buffer against trouble, but even I know I can’t prepare for everything. But since I try to for a lot of stuff, people don’t see it, until it becomes necessary.

    • It can have some weird outcmes, though. One panic and scrable I did ended me up as ‘head of security’ (one person dept.) at a tiny outlet mall in Felmington NJ. The job was tiresome, but there were some interesting sidelights. For one thing, we seemed to get a lot of ‘kept women’ shopping there. At least that’s the only answer that seemed to fit. Young. Beautiful in a sort of high maintenance way. Exquisitely turned out. And shopping in Flemington instead of some more prestigious venue…where maybe they might run into the wife?

      And if you are ever in a mall when there’s a fire, don’t count on being able to get out of a store’s back door. Back rooms are routinely filled with crap the stores are supposed to hold onto, and seldom have room for it all AND space to keep the fire exit clear.

  10. Been there. Got the t-shirt. Details not the same, doesn’t matter. I lived. ~:D

    My piece of wisdom for today is this:

    I’ve been shopping for a company to do a service for me. Details unimportant. I’ve interviewed more than five companies, large and small. Lots of salesmanship, very smooth presentations.

    The one I like is the only one who seemed genuinely excited by the project, and they said, out loud, “We want to do this project.”

    So, all you dorks, weirdos and nerds, TELL THE TRUTH. You want the job, tell them you want the job. Tell them why. Smooth presentation counts for SHIT in the Real World.

    • And if you don’t know, just say so. That honesty does more good for you than many can even imagine. Then go find out, and call back or such. But never, ever lie – you might get the deal… ONCE… and a reputation you won’t like.

  11. You seem to be living a Horatio Alger story. On the outside; definitely not on the inside.
    Also, you don’t write with an accent.

    • Blink. No, the only accent in my head is Southern US. And you can sometimes hear it if you read really closely.
      Unfortunately ears and vocal cords are different.

  12. And that 20 years of descent into blubber and brain fog should explain why I rant about “full thyroid workup as FIRST line of inquiry for ANY chronic condition” at the drop of a hat. The basic tests (especially the accurate but misleading TSH test) can only tell if you’re well; they can’t tell if you’re sick, or how sick, or how to fix it.

    And for longstanding undiagnosed hypothyroid (especially when it’s progressed to or resulted from autoimmune thyroiditis, aka Hashimoto’s), you should also watch blood calcium levels, as Hashi’s end-stage appears to be hyperparathyroidism, which will not correct when the thyroid is fixed, and requires surgical removal of the associated fibroid tumors. (Simple 15 minute procedure, when done right.)

    • The really funny thing is that every doctor who saw me kept repeating the same basic test. And yes, it does a number on your immune system too, besides the auto-immune, so I kept getting more and more sick.

    • I add vitamin D levels and iron levels to that suggestion. They’re both very under diagnosed and easily tested for, and damned if a simple iron supplement didn’t clear up the exhaustion, high blood pressure, and beginnings of a heart murmur I’d developed last year. (“But you’re not anemic,” said my doctor. Yeah, but my ferritin was at a level of 6 when the range is supposed to be 22 to one hundred and something. Pre-anemic comes with the same symptoms, just not yet life-threatening!)

  13. I’ve been unlucky. I’ve been stupid. When I was being stupid, it was easy to convince myself I was being unlucky.

    • I had a roommate who’d set himself up for various disasters, and when they occurred, figured it was “bad luck”.

      • I’ve watched a train wreck in progress, and I still shake my head over it. I was working for Suncoast, the video retail arm of Sam Goodey. Great manager. Great assistant manager. Third key (the lowest lver of manager) was an ass. He not only was not a self starter, but if he had a list of things to do, and got to the end of it, he would become destructively bored and do things like chin himself on the fixtures.

        Then I met the women who had raised him (mother and aunt), and understood that he had NEVER been allowed to think anything he did was good enough, so he gave up.

        The hardest part of all this was that uderstanding what made him what he was simply did not help. He was still infuriating.

        *sigh*

  14. A grad school prof commented that I seemed very calm for all the goings on in the department. I smiled and said I was like a duck: unruffled and serene on the surface, and paddling like h-ll underneath. He laughed and thumped me on the shoulder, which for him was being wildly demonstrative.

    Now? I look calm and with it. I wish my mind would catch up with the outside of me, but that’s my personal battle, and one that the rest of the world doesn’t need to know about. There’s not a dang thing anyone else can do about it. And there’s no grounds to give my not-friends a reason to gloat. 😛

  15. Shortly before Daughter#1 arrived, wife took leave from work (which was not guaranteed she’d get back).

    The small company I worked for went TU. Unexpectedly. We had no more than two months’ savings if we scraped together every single penny and squeezed the seat cushions until they squealed. Well, seat cushion, singular.

    It all worked out, but the memory has helped tamp down panic more than once during the succeeding 40 years.

  16. 11B-Mailclerk

    I would challenge “panic” as the descriptor.

    Panic is dysfunctional. Panicked people may freeze, or go flailing about, but neither solves or mitigates the problem.

    What you describe sounds like a highly energetic response to a threat, seeking solutions.

    You may perceive – some- disfunction, or wheel-spinning. But if the functional stuff is net positive, that is -not- “panic”.

    In other words, you -make- “luck” by getting purposefully busy, to the point where acquaintances note it.

    Know your power. It is uncommon.

  17. Which is not to say that it was just or made any sense.

    In all of my sixty-plus years of life and nearly as many years reading history I’ve yet to see any basis for thinking life is ever just or makes sense except by accident and illusion.

    Not even the world’s major Faiths claim the world is just or makes sense. Give up on that and ride the waves rather than looking for what isn’t there.

  18. Thank you, I needed to read this today. Been coasting for a month or so due to… Issues best left unsaid. Just have to put on my big boy pants and get done what needs to be done.

  19. 2003 – When tech took a hike from our area. Hyundai Chip left (after completing their 5 year tax deferral) building still empty, I think. Company I worked for went bankrupt, not related to the chip factory, just should never have bought the last two companies (one of which I had worked for). Drives me nuts that this area is considered mini-silicon valley (say what??). Finally found something with a very small firm with a very small salary (less than what had made 14 years earlier). It was scary at the time. But …

    When I looked back we were better off than most. When I complain about dipping into savings to balance the budget, it was not the kids college fund, retirement funds (regardless of type), nor the emergency fund, it was regular savings for “just because”. By the time I found a job we were close to exhausting the fund we were dipping into, plus hubby had to take the transfer his job forced on him (quitting was not an option), resulting in paying for 2 households. What that taught me … live to one net salary … well we knew that one, that is what saved our financial tails … but one must LIVE to the lower one!!!! Never ever quite got expenses down that far, but we kept working on it.

    FYI. It was another 10 years before our combined salaries ever grossed over 6 figures, let alone was taxed there. We just pay ourselves first.

    Least you think we’re deprived (we’re not). We have toys, including an RV (which was one of the households in 2003 – 2005, because middle-of-no-where-ville ski resort rents were out of line & RV was paid for). What we don’t have is more house than we can afford. Don’t buy cars before the last one is paid off; even have years where no car payment is required. Had decent medical insurance. No major financial debilitating medical issues (yet). Paid off the college loans on time (ours), avoided kid getting one (yes he went & got his degree). What other areas get people in trouble?

    I am guessing it helped that our first jobs out of college we were told we would be laid off every year for the first 5 to 10 years. AND we had to borrow money to actually go to work (thanks to our folks).

  20. It’s hard to see what has been good about how things have been in my life. I seem to be about five years behind everyone else in everything except the bad things. Except I seem to be ahead of schedule on that…

    But, I have my health.
    I have a family that loves me.
    I have a job. It’s an annoying job, but it pays enough bills and enough stuff that I don’t have to drive Uber or sell blood.
    My writing mojo has seemed to have come back.

    Oh, there are things that I still want. Quite a few things. But, I know that I am luckier than most.

  21. I’m okay with their getting their wish except they are determined to take us with them.

    The Left Has A Death Wish
    By Sarah Hoyt
    The left has a deep-seated death wish. By which I don’t mean they’re presenting themselves in the wrong light or whatever, I mean an actually bonafide death wish. They hate themselves, they hate the civilization that created them. They wish both would die.

    They try to disguise this, of course, most of all to themselves, hence their endless panics about how Trump is going to put them in camps, or whatever the latest faddish fear is. But it’s there.

    You know in the seventies, when Iran declared war on us, took our people as hostage and Jimmy – Smiler – Carter did not immediately pound them into the dirt and sacrificed more of our people in an ill-planned attempt to spring them.

    Then there was 9/11. How long did it take for the lefties to go from shocked horror to “we deserved it” or “we deserve this because of how evil we are?”

    I know some that made the flip in 24h. And one who started saying the attack didn’t matter anyway, because more people die every week in the highways of America.

    And then they turned to worry OBSESSIVELY about “Islamophobia.”

    Some of my lefty acquaintances went to hold hands around the local mosque to “protect” it. From whom? I don’t know.

    Note that they still have not a single bad word to say about Islam. If they judged it as they judge Christianity, they wouldn’t shut up about the way they treat American gays. Pretty much twenty-four seven.

    But no. The Jihadis would kill most of the left’s hard-core partisans, and so they love, love, love Islam, the more aggressive the better.

    Death Wish. …

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I would note that ‘someone else could have killed Mollie Tibbets’ is akin to supposing that, following the adoption of a policy of killing border crossers (so that the families can be reunited in Hell), that the people in the mass graves could have just as easily died being transported by coyotes, and so the act of killing bears no weight.

      It is very much like these sons of bitches do not believe in one rule for everyone. They want ‘one rule for me, and one rule for you’.

        • And yet, if anyone is so crass as to note that “Somebody else could have made that wedding cake” the fecalstorm would obscure the sun.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            The love that dare not shut up lest we have time to our selves to really think about the matter.

            The charitable assumption is that some gays may have a sneaking suspicion that the ‘homophobes’* would be correct to suggest that homosexuals should be put to death. Ergo, vocally trying to shut us up in order to quiet the inner voices.

            *I’m not sure a significant constituency exists as is described by the gay flavored political entity.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Sarah had an article on “Lefties Have A Death Wish”.

              Sometimes, you have to wonder if some gays have a death wish and thus want to provoke people into killing them. 👿

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                Perhaps homosexuality is like cancer. Perhaps it could be more than one unrelated phenomena that happen to share the symptom of same sex attraction.

              • There is a certain developmental stage at which small children seem to take joy in running in circles screaming their fear while otherwise evidencing no expectation of danger.

                Just saying.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  Yet, they are doing stuff that intelligent people should wonder “Is this going to make me more hated?” 😦

              • I know lots of gay folk, and not just because I’m in theatre. Only a few of them fall into the “obnoxiously demonstrative” faction (where “demonstrative” means “actually participating in demonstrations and protests and what all.”) Most of them actually (*gasp*) act like most of the world, and just get on with their lives. So yeah, some of them may well have a death wish.

      • They want ‘one rule for me, and one rule for you’.

        Thomas Sowell covered that extremely well in his Vision of the Anointed. There is a set of rules for the Enlightened Ones and a set for the Benighted — or, as Hillary called them, the Deplorables.

        This is why the MSM never reports race when reporting shootings (unless the shooter is pallid) nor reports on defensive gun use. And why DiFi’s driver/office assistant being a Chicom Agent is less newsworthy than Trump dining on egg roll.

        • Speaking of which, supposedly the Jacksonville shooter’s reddit feed has been found and he’s a card-carrying #Resistance member. He hates Trumptards.

      • “It is very much like these sons of bitches do not believe in one rule for everyone. They want ‘one rule for me, and one rule for you’.”
        And when you take a look around at our de facto legal system, they’ve pretty much got it.

    • A bit off into the weeds and a bit long (Those who have read my comments here will no doubt be shocked, shocked) but mention of the reaction to 9/11 raised some thoughts apropos:

      My reaction to 9/11, at least after they confirmed where the attacks originated, was “Why are there not lakes of green glass over there yet?” I do not think I am alone in this line of thought, even here in Silicon Valley.

      I also think a big chunk of the “does not approve of the Iraq war” polls that the media used to attack Bush (before and then after he wiped the floor with John F. Kerry) were along these lines. While there was a real opposition to the war from the lefties, there was also a chunk of folks like me who were dissatisfied that the US war effort was too hearts and minds and not kinetic enough, dragging the whole thing on without getting it done. All that time the “oppose the handling of the war” poll questions were set up to include both the “too much” antiwar answers and the “too little” not-bombing-them-enough answers.

      Then the finally did wrap things up when the US turned the Sunni sheiks in the west and ran the surge – The Lightbringer threw that victory away with the withdrawal, and then he encouraged and back-channel supported the creation of Daesh as an opposition to the Iranian influence in Iraq.

      That went well.

      And then we were in a governmental mode averse to “getting it done” anywhere around the world for all the dark years until The Miracle of 2016.

      I think that practice of hiding the ball in polling questions – during the Iraq war basically to obscure and suppress the influence of the Jacksonian “make the rubble bounce” constituency – was one of the suppression-just-builds-pressure things that Trump tapped into.

      And an entire generation of pollsters came of age between 9/11 and 2016, so that was all they ever learned.

      This explains why the pollsters were so surprised when The Dowager Empress of Chappaqua’s coronation was cancelled: The poll questions had been skewed for so long that they forgot (or never knew) how to write them straight, and on the other side those polled had been ignored for so long that if they bothered to answer polls, they just lied.

      It just goes to show that suppressing anything will just cause it to pop out somewhere else later.

      • You’re giving way too much good faith to pollsters.
        Polls do not exist to give an accurate representation of what a cross-section of society thinks.
        They exist to pressure the erstwhile representatives of society to act in desired ways.

        Back in the early ’90s, I was studying geology and geography. I had the misfortune to sign up for a class titled “Human Geography”. I expected it to be a study on how humans affected their environment (and vice-versa). What it was, was a masterclass on how to rig a poll sample while maintaining the appearance of being statistically valid.
        Data mining has come a long way since then.
        And the organisations paying for polls (especially the media) have not become LESS biased.

  22. I’ve had bouts with brain fog. Sometimes I won’t know I am having a problem until a friend (or member of my family) recognize it. It sure feels good when you come back though.

  23. I figure if a couple isn’t willing to scramble up the cliff face on their bleeding fingernails for their marriage and their kids; they probably shouldn’t have either. Of course it took about 3 days for the initial shock to wear off before I dug in. And yes, getting a job in IT after the dot com bust was tough. I had to open the skill set back up to take a job similar to what I used to do, wasn’t crazy about, but happened to be good at. Self actualizing isn’t worth a hill of beans if it doesn’t pay the bills; something that the Ocasio-Cortez crowd doesn’t understand.

  24. And make-up, not at all.

    With a special exception for stuff that’s caked on thick enough that it looks like she’s hiding some horrible disfigurement.

    • Now, that’s an odd wordpress error.

      A double post is one thing, but in two different places with different time stamps.