Fighting the Rain

Outside it is pouring rain.  My son pointed out, as we waited in the warmth of my SUV at the end of our longish driveway for his bus this morning, that pouring rain is his least favorite weather.  For him, it is because his sensitive sensory system makes the wetness that results on his skin and on his clothes feel like sandpaper, or fire, or some other horrible sensation.  He can’t focus anymore, he can’t breathe, because all he can feel is that awful, awful feeling.

I dislike the rain too, but for different reasons.  The dark clouds that gather, the heaviness from the damp….it muddles my mind and brings out the darkness that lives inside me.  Always, always, rainy days bring back sad thoughts and hard memories.  I look through the window with the rain streaming down, imagining I’m on camera somewhere, and a soundtrack soars in the background giving life to my internal grief.

I haven’t been writing here lately.  I think the catharsis of putting my thoughts into words is something I’m missing.  But it’s hard because I’m not sure which words I should be choosing for this space now.  I’ve completed my mission, my task for why I set up this blog.  To go through my former life, my stories, my path that led me to where I sit now.  So what now?

The question is one I’m asking myself not just about this blog, but about my life.  With my son finally doing well in school, I’m less and less needed during the day while he’s at school.  Most stay at home mothers arrive here at some point while their children are in elementary school.  It’s an enviable place to be:  we don’t really need an extra income right now.  Sure, my being at home makes everything easy for everyone:  the laundry is always done, the food is always bought and cooked, the beds are made and the dog is walked.  But there are hours and hours left over.

These are the hours I’ve previously filled with writing, or volunteering at school,  or working on freelance websites or at the art studio.  But with the art studio closing and my two current clients in “wait and see” mode, and the kids getting older…I find myself thinking….now what?  There has to be a way to transition into something new, something different.  I mean, I can’t possibly spend the next eight years folding laundry and watching endless loops of my Grey’s Anatomy DVDs in the downtime, can I?

The rain outside the window today makes me think I can.  I need to fight the rain.

 

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Unemployed

I lost my job yesterday.

It’s not a huge job, mind you.  I’ve been working on and off at our local children’s art studio for five years.  Jill and I started working together after she allowed me to host a Kyle Vincent concert at her studio in late 2006.  I didn’t know her then; a friend I’d met at my son’s preschool did, though, and when I wondered if all of my girlfriends would fit into my small roomed house for such a “living room show”, she suggested Jill’s studio close by.  By the end of the event Jill was talking to Kyle about business, and he mentioned that I did his website and graphic design.  A few weeks later, she approved my mock up for her site, and we’ve been working together ever since.

Jill put me to work doing anything my skill set allowed.  First the website, then her accounting and some clerical work, and finally, some teaching of the classes she offered to the children of our town.  It was extremely part time, but perfect for my busy life that didn’t allow me to work outside of my childrens’ school hours and sometimes required me to be available even then to meet all of their needs.  It was my first foray outside of my home since I’d moved to Connecticut, and it was just enough to make me feel like I wasn’t allowing my skills to evaporate while tending to my children’s lives so fully.

Working for Jill introduced me to other business owners in town too, and before long I had a small roster of website design clients.  With Jill’s studio being popular and well known in town, all I had to do was drop her name and jobs came my way with very little effort.  It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was enough to feel like I was doing something meaningful in my off hours.

Unfortunately, since I did Jill’s books for her, I could see that the economic crash of 2008 took a huge toll on Jill’s business.  Children’s art classes were a pricey luxury that most parents were easily able to slash out of their budgets.  Jill responded as any shrewd business person would by cutting her own costs.  One by one I saw most of the seasoned teachers leave.  Jill taught everything she could herself, and when she couldn’t, she hired cheaper college and high school students to fill in.

And for a while, that was enough to stay afloat.  I marveled at how her summer camps and her birthday party businesses kept her in the black.  She bought a kiln and added paint your own pottery aspect to her studio, which brought income in during the long stretches between semesters when the bank account often grew thin.  But she also quietly put the property up for sale, waiting to see if anyone would be interested in buying the business.

No one was.  After two years on the market and over $100,000 in reductions of the price, she made the hard decision to close the studio.  I was unprepared, when I went in for my usual Thursday perusal of receipts and tasks that this would be the last time I would be asked to come in.  I knew it was coming, of course, but didn’t realize it was happening now instead of later.  This was it.  Five years and what seems like a lifetime of growth and change later, Jill and I are parting ways.

I’ve always called my job a “little job”.  But today, in its absence, it feels much bigger than it ever was.  And I will miss it.  Very much.

New Year, New…??

I have notebooks from when I was younger…my journals.  At times when I was chronicling My Former Life (lives?) they were at times helpful in remembering those long forgotten details of those dusty memories from so long ago.  And most of them include a few New Year’s Day entries, most of them either trying to sum up the previous year or attempt to commit to something new for the next year.  I remember well writing the one on New Years Day 1993, writing that I knew that this was the year my mother would die.  Such a horrible, terrible, liberating knowledge.

I have no such “epiphanous” (a word I think I invented and used often during those rants) insights this year.  This New Year’s was spent like the last five or so before it; a New Year’s Eve party at one girlfriend’s house, a New Year’s Day party at another.  During these parties I am always asked about our Christmas in Florida, a tradition that we also carry on every year, despite our changes in address and situation (this year, we picked up Z from his new home in Virginia, for example).  This year is much like last year, and the year before it, and for that I should be, and am, grateful.  My life is calm, stable, and fortunate.

But in some ways, this year was different.  I did do something out of my norm on New Year’s this year…I ran a 5K.  This one was my third.  I’ve never done anything like that before, and it made this New Year’s feel very different.  Last year I wore a heavy sweater hoping to hide my burgeoning body and felt very unhappy with my appearance.  This year my pants are a size smaller and I wore a form fitting sweater hoping people would notice the 13 pounds less of me there is this time.  I was smarter in what I ate and drank, and while the scale is up today after several days of out of the norm eating, I still am starting this year with a different feeling about my health and fitness and body.  I’ve been down this road before, of course, but I am determined that my hard work will not be undone this year, but instead will become routine and habit.

I don’t know what this New Year will bring.  Will I finally decide to begin whatever the new chapter in my professional life will be?  Will my husband’s job move us to another new place after having been here for seven years?  Will my elder son propose to his serious girlfriend, or will they not make it?  Every New Year’s Day has these questions about what the next twelve months will be and the exciting possibility that life will change, become better.  But after having lived through 41 of these days, I think I can safely say that the best years are those in which much of what surrounds me stays exactly the same.

Happy New Year’s, everyone.

 

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