An imaginary conversation about letters of reference

Remember how I told you that I thought people should have to provide references in first dates?

No.

You never listen.

Yes I do, but I can’t be expected to keep up with every one of your insane ideas.

Some people like my ideas.

No they don’t.

Are you sure?

The men, anyway. They just pretend to like your ideas because they want to fuck you.

All of them? I don’t think so.

Some of them. The ones pretending to like your insane ideas.

You don’t have a very high opinion of how men think. Also, I don’t like that you are dissing my creative ideas.

Insane.

Quirky.

You know how a lot of men think.

Yes. And that is why I had this new idea!

I can’t wait to hear it.

I’ll pretend that was sincere and tell you: I think we should get sexual letters of reference from past lovers upon separation so new lovers know what to expect.

Dear gods.

What? Don’t you think it would be helpful?

No.

Star rankings like high school athletes?

You’ve lost your mind entirely.

You don’t think I should bring this up on dates?

Are you kidding me?

Yes.

Good.

Mostly.

It’s a terrible idea.

Well, it does have some challenges.

Some?

Sure. Like how would someone know the references were real and sincere?

Among other things.

Or, a past lover could torpedo your sexual future by giving a bad reference.

The logistics alone make this impossible.

Well, I think it has a lot of possibilities.

I doesn’t. No possibilities at all.

The reviews could be posted online.

No. Who would pay for hosting?

People who want to have sex.

So you’d have some sort of legal mandate on that?

Good point. That could be tricky.

There is no scenario in which this is anything but crazy.

You’re so unwhimsical.

Your idea isn’t whimsical, it’s batshit-ical.

Aren’t you ever curious though?

Of course. That’s part of the fun. Waiting to find out.

I suppose you’re right. If you knew ahead of time, all of that fun teasing and delayed gratification would be pointless.

Is it ever pointless?

Not if it’s done well.

Luck and privilege

Since I may be unemployed soon, or making a good deal less money than I do now, I’ve been thinking a lot about money and lifestyle. It’s been stressful being in limbo about my professional and financial fate.  Three months of not knowing if I will have a job, or if I do how much of a drop in pay there will be…and there’s still no end in sight. See previous post about seeing a counselor.

The other day something occurred to me: I have never been unemployed as an adult. Not since my twenties, which doesn’t quite count.

That lead to yet another reinforcement of what I know on many levels. I have had a very lucky, very privileged life. I know it on an intellectual level, but hadn’t really stopped to appreciate it on a purely practical one as it applies to work and money. That is mostly because I have been in the very rare position of not having had serious problems related to money in my life.

The last time I was unemployed was decades ago. I was briefly unemployed at 21 when I moved from Poitiers to Paris. Ask me about being an illegal sometime. Does that count? I was still technically in college. Then again briefly when we moved from Paris to Oklahoma City in 1987.  The last time I was ever unemployed was in 1990 when I started working at Legacy.  I was 26 years old. During that time I wasn’t single, which makes a big difference in the perception of how urgent it is to find work. If there are two of you, it’s easier.

This is the first time I contemplated  the possibility of unemployment as a single woman, and I think that is a big part of why I am so stressed out about it.

Like most of us  I was underemployed during my twenties and early thirties, but once I went into IT that changed. I’ve had health insurance for decades without interruption. I own my own home. I have a pension, retirement savings, life insurance and a fairly impressive net worth. I have parents who have also done well in life, so I may even inherit some money.

Although I sometimes worry about how I will get things paid for, I’ve never really had to be concerned about making ends meet. Not really. It was stressful during my last divorce when I wasn’t sure I’d be able to afford the house, but it worked out. I have always been able to have a roof over my head, food, and utilities. Sometimes I’ve gone without extras like cable, but generally speaking I have done very well professionally and I’ve always tried to put money away in case of an emergency.

If I do become unemployed, I guess that would be an emergency.

Even then, I have more of a cushion than the vast majority of  people. I have savings.  I’ll get a severance package, and take away hundreds of hours of unused vacation time pay. If ever a person was ready to be unemployed, I am that person. It doesn’t make it easy, but I could probably survive for a year or two just on the severance, vacation time and savings and that’s not even taking unemployment into consideration.

If I get a roommate or two? My mortgage wouldn’t be as much of a financial concern. Or I could rent out my house for more than my mortgage, move in with my folks and live on my severance package and savings until I retire and my pension and 401K kick in. Or sell my house,  move to Nebraska, buy a house for cash with the equity and do whatever the fuck I want to do for a living.

Options abound, because I have been prudent, lucky and privileged.  What’s my point? That I’m a spoiled bougie bitch who should quit complaining about stress? Well, yeah. Kind of.

If I had not benefitted from a family who made sure I got an education, if I had been born in a different place, if I had been born with a mental disability, if any leg of the foundation of my life had been yanked out I could be in a different place right now. My supportive family, my education, my ability to learn pretty much anything. My inquisitive mind. My race. Good luck. Living in a relatively prosperous state. All of those things are crucial.

I might be concerned, but am I panicked? No, because I’m prepared and because even if the very worst of every possible thing happens my family wouldn’t let me be homeless.

I have the ultimate privilege in that I have people who love me who will always catch me if I manage to fall in spite of everything I have done to prevent it. It is the biggest blessing I could have, and a lot of people have none of the things I try not to take for granted.

My loved ones will catch me, I know, but I still get exhausted just trying not to fall.

On seeing a counselor

So I suppose a normal person would sweep this under the rug, but I don’t have a rug. That means it will be as out in the open as anything else I do.

What? I know I have a rug. It was a figure of speech.

Anyway, I’ve started seeing a counselor because the stress at work and at home is driving me a little nuts and I need some help figuring out the best way to handle it.

Of course, after seeing her for two weeks, I have realized that I am probably  going to have to get a different one because this one makes me feel all stabby inside. That isn’t the effect I was hoping for. What’s wrong with her? Well, for one thing she has no idea what to do with someone who has an issue with food. For another, she is absolutely insistent that I have a soul and that working on doing things to feed my soul and get me in touch with my spirituality will help me a lot.

Those of you who have had discussions with me about my soul and spirituality are ducking right now. For those of you who are not in the loop about my soul, here’s the very high level summary: I don’t believe I have a soul in the traditional sense of the word, and I do not define myself as having  any sort of spirituality. I think that people are who they are and how they are because of the chemical makeup of their physical bodies.

And I sure as FUCK don’t want my spirituality to be the focus of any sort of therapeutic plan.

Stephen, Paddy and Robin: you  just be quiet right now. We are not going to discuss how spiritual I am. I’m not spiritual, I’m observant and grateful for being alive. It has nothing to do with a  soul. I notice things that are cool in the world and point them out, in much the same way that I notice things that are wrong.

Ahem.

In addition to those issues, she seems very focused on finding a diagnosis instead of working with me on concrete ideas that I can use to get a handle on the issues I’m struggling with. Like figuring out why I have trouble letting go of people, or why I have been working for the same company for 27 years. Or why I eat instead of dealing with my feelings. She did agree with my observation that it’s probably all for the same reason, then wondered what diagnosis she should put down for me.

She suggested that she put down mild depression but, well, I’m not depressed. I’m overwhelmed and having trouble coping. Apparently being overwhelmed and having a coping deficit isn’t something that she can write down on her piece of paper. Maybe I should look it up online and let her know what it is. Should she really be asking the patient anyway?

Maybe this is normal procedure for counseling sessions, but so far I am finding her even less helpful than the  friend who suggested that I  “try being happy for a change.”

She gets one more week.

Aren’t  these all first world problems anyway? Very much so, and I have no doubt that there will be a future post about my issues with entitlement and privilege and how fucking lucky I am  to have the amazingly good life that I have had. This is about me confessing that I am such a loser that I got a counselor.

OK, OK, OK. I know. Getting a counselor doesn’t make me a loser, it makes me someone who recognizes that I need help. It means that I was  smart enough to get help instead of continuing to struggle on my own like I usually do. It means I am actually capable of learning from my past mistakes.

It also means that someone  is getting paid to encourage me to talk about my problems, so none of you have to listen for free anymore!

(It doesn’t mean that, if you love me you still have to listen.)

It’s not like I am even  unhappy once you get me out of the cesspool of despair called work. I still laugh a lot. There’s usually a genuine smile on my face. I still think I know all of the best people in the world. I still notice things like the nifty turtle cloud I saw in the sunrise this morning. I still life. I don’t even mind being single, except for the lack of affection.  But my focus is shot, I’m sleeping badly, and I can’t even read a fucking book. I need a little boost. So I am getting it.

You know it’s bad if I can’t read. I always read.

Still.

Maybe I should try just being happy for a change….Counseling isn’t cheap, and I may be unemployed soon!