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!

An imaginary conversation about compliments

So the other night, this guy told me he likes me because our conversations are random and weird.

Oh, I’m sorry!

Why? It was a great compliment.

It was?

Sometimes I don’t think you know me at all…

You do say weird things a lot.

Right. And it’s one of my charms.

It is?

IT’S ONE OF MY CHARMS. And he said likes me because I’m weird and random. Not in spite of it.

I always look forward to hearing what your next odd idea is too.

That didn’t sound very sincere.

You know I love that you’re a weirdo.

That’s better, and don’t roll your eyes at me.

I can’t help it.

Is it genetic?

You know what I mean.

True.

So when did you meet this guy?

I haven’t.

What do you mean you haven’t?

I haven’t met him.

Did you imagine a conversation with him?

No, but if I had then I could write an imaginary conversation about actually having an imaginary conversation and my blog would explode or something.

Focus.

What?

So how were you talking to him if you haven’t met?

We met online. We’ve been texting.

Oh, God.

What?

You shouldn’t text people you don’t know. There’s no telling what you’ll say.

I know! It’s great!  Why are you looking at me like that?

Why is it great?

Because you know what I’m like in person…

Smart?

No…I mean, yeah…but no…

Funny?

Funnier than you are..

Probably. What were we talking about again?

That I’m weird in person, and not necessarily in a good way like when I text.

Oh, you’re probably the same both in person and in texts.

Really? Shit.

OK, Miss Consistent..why are you good weird when you text and bad weird in person?

Because.

Ah. Well. I can’t argue with that!

You can’t? Damn.

Weirdo.

Because in person I’m just awkward and silent. In writing, there are always words, at least.

See? I knew you could use your words.

Not very well in person. I’m a dork in person.

You’re a dork when you text, too. In a good way.

You’re just humoring me.

You’re a lot of work, you know.

I know. You’re a good sport about it.

I was kidding.

No you weren’t, but thanks for saying so.

You didn’t tell him about blow jobs did you?

Uh..why was that the first thing you thought I’d talk about?

You did, didn’t you? Are you nuts?

It’s endearing.

It’s crazy. Talking about blow jobs is not endearing. You can’t just tell random strangers about how you feel about sex.

I like sex.

Of course you do. Everyone does. You just can’t talk about it when you haven’t met someone before.

Why not?

Because.

That’s not a good reason. There’s nothing wrong with blowjobs.

No, obviously I’m a fan.

So, why can’t I have a conversation about it? It’s not like I walk up to random people on the street and tell them I swallow.

It’s a social convention.

That’s silly, what is it 1802 or something?

It gives people the wrong idea about you.

No, actually it gives them the right idea.

I’m not sure you understand how talking to men works.

I’m pretty sure I do.

But that isn’t the part of the man you want to stimulate before you’ve even met.

The brain part?

You’ve met men before.

Yes. Oh, you mean that men think with their dicks?

No. But they don’t need to be reminded of sex every minute. They’ll think about it plenty on their own. Maybe you should try to engage their brains before you go straight for the genitals.

I’ll text him back and tell him I don’t really swallow. I’m really a spitter. I worship at the altar of  the rag of redemption.

The what?

The rag of redemption. It’s what non-swallowers spit into..

Why do I feel like that’s a whole story?

Because it’s a whole story. A funny one.

Do not tell the guy you’ve never met that story.

Well I have to if I’m going to explain my change of heart about swallowing.

Just. No. Seriously.

You’re so easy.