Working Girl – Part Deux

One year and eight months. That’s how long my “vacation” has lasted. Actually, it’s the length of time I’ve been unemployed. They assigned a fancy term to it − “reduction in force.”  But after being loyal to the company for 16 years, I translated it as, “Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.” And I’m not naïve. I’ve always said everyone is replaceable. But HOW RUDE! I’m not! Oh, yeah, guess I am. In came a part-timer to replace me. No benefits or insurance needed. Robotics and repetition were the only job requirements needed.

I may sound bitter. Actually, I’m not. I vividly remember locking myself in a bathroom years ago so I wouldn’t hear my kids screaming or throwing tantrums and getting down on my knees on the pee-stained, cold bathroom tiles and praying, “Dear God, just let me have a moment of peace and time to myself.”  Be careful what you ask for. Sometimes He’s listening.

So that’s exactly what He gave me − one year and eight months of solitude. (Dude, seriously?) I was getting my first taste of “retirement.” But being too young to retire and too old to compete against a lot of young people seeking employment, I was in my own private limbo.

Having recently become an empty nester, I’ve had no one to answer to, no agendas to organize, no mouths to feed…oh, yeah, HE’s still here. And although I haven’t been able to relax completely – having to pound the pavement daily to find a job and appease the unemployment office with my determination and a big smile on my face as I went to various job interviews and got rejected over and over again, I will definitely miss the “good side” of unemployment now that I am scheduled to start my new job in six days.

My alarm clock is a glutton for punishment and has missed being slammed and cursed at. I’m reading all these advice columns about going back to work and how one should start going to bed early and getting used to waking early. Pssshhhhhhhhh. Once a night owl, always a night owl. Get ready for some major abuse, little alarm clock.

I’ll miss having time for my artistic endeavors that I hadn’t had time to pursue as a busy, working mom − painting, writing, sewing, cooking − and afternoons leisurely walking around a fabric or art store, just to touch and feel things that bring me a simple joy. I’ll miss the empty Home Depot store at three in the afternoon, devoid of contractors and the working masses, where I actually enjoy looking for that Fluidmaster flange-y thing The Mister needs to fix our toilet, then getting distracted and oohing and aaahing at the fancy hardware and wishing I had extra doors to install them all on.

I’ll miss my little home office where I greet the morning with my morning cup of coffee where I sit and write and look out upon the neighborhood, where I tell the time by the predictable sound of the mail truck and the screech of the brakes from the man in brown. No need for a neighborhood watch. And I’m watching you, lady in minivan who doesn’t stop at the stop sign.

Traffic. Ugh. I haven’t missed it. My new job won’t require a long commute, but it will entail coming into contact with subhumans again. And I’ll need to add the word, “REALLY??” back into my vocabulary on a daily basis. I’ll have to suppress my astonishment at short people driving in the fast lane (I have a theory about the ratio of length of legs vs. pressure on an accelerator that I won’t get into), people who stop in merge lanes, and people who pull up to bank windows and THEN get out their money or checkbooks.

Lordy, my stress level and blood pressure are already skyrocketing!

But now that I, hopefully, have found a job I think I’ll like, I’m also excited to get back to improving my time management skills (I don’t even know what day it is), meeting old friends for lunch, and basically revving my brain back up which has been sitting in a vegetative state for awhile. I’ll get to wear something besides sweats and fuzzy socks with my hair up in a clip. With the additional income, I’ll get to go back to getting my nails done once in awhile and pampering myself a bit. But my forced frugality has been a good lesson in remembering that everything I have is everything I need.

And now that I’ll be gainfully employed, after a long, hard day, I can walk in the door and say, “What’s for dinner, hon?”

Oh, who am I kidding?

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