Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


Bone structure

Many years ago having just graduated from college I couldn’t find work.  Wait a minute.  That sounds like my most recent college degree but no job experience…but I digress.  Back in the 70’s I was working through  a temporary agency and one of my assignments was to demonstrate the newly introduced Kodak Instant Camera which was directly competing with the more established Polaroid.

I was standing in the camera department of some big store, asking people if they wanted to have their pictures taken with the new camera.  Surprisingly many did.  They got to keep the photo and got a coupon for a discount off the camera.  Over the two or three days of the demo I began to notice that a lot of people look like each other.  That maybe there are only a handful of facial bone structures in existence.  That maybe we’re all more alike than we realize.

Now more than 30 years later I’m noticing this phenomenon again.  I see people that look familiar as I work at my new job back at the old bank.  People coming and going seem familiar, but I realize I’m not sure why.  Are they people I worked with four years ago?  Or do they just  remind me of people I knew while at school?  Or from my job at the library in between?  Or are they people I knew when I was a runner?  People in the bands I’ve played with?

I feel like I’ve had many separate lives over the years.  And sometimes I forget that people from my life at a bank in the Upper Peninsula don’t know my running friends from downstate, that the people I worked with at the mortgage company don’t know the library patrons I used to help, or the people that I’ve shared a music stand with.

It all seems like one seamless experience to me; though the life experiences have been pretty segregated I think that all the people I’ve met and known, talked to, commiserated with, all those people are pretty much the same.  Their faces are starting to run together as is my history of friends and acquaintances, all running together in a fluid stream of experience.

Lately when I see someone familiar approaching and smiling at me I smile back while racking my brain to figure out what part of my life they might have been in.  Where I knew them.  If I knew them.  Who they are.

Maybe it’s just that everyone looks alike and there’s only a handful of facial bone structures in the world.  Maybe we’re all more alike then we know.



The holidays are almost behind us.  This year everything seemed more stressful than usual.  I don’t know why.  It’s not as if I  haven’t done all of this before.   But I don’t remember being so very tired after.  The kind of tired where you come home from work, skip dinner and go to bed.  Where even after a long night of restless sleep you drag yourself out of bed to navigate the icy streets back to work thinking only about how many hours it is until you can go back to bed again.

Maybe it’s an aging thing.  Maybe I just get myself involved in too many things for my age.  Maybe I should say no more often.  Or maybe not, because everything I did this holiday season was fun, and I wouldn’t want to skip any of it.  The shopping and wrapping and visiting family, the holiday concerts, the cookie making, the planning for the big family dinner, the decorating and the hosting…it was all wonderful.

But now I need a nap.  Maybe a four or five day nap.  Oh yea, I forgot about that job I have to go to.  And this week we have to work all five days!  What were they thinking?  So that’s why this hostess gift we received at Sunday’s big holiday dinner will come in so handy.  The name of the wine says it all.

That is just what I’m going to do this New Year’s Eve…RELAX!  If I stay up till midnight to see the ball drop in Times Square, well, that’s cool.  But the odds are stacked against me, and really, how many years do I make it awake till midnight?  Not so many.  And I think I’m not alone, judging from the cubicle chatter today.

So maybe it’s not an age thing.  Maybe it’s just an over committed thing.  Maybe I’m just like everyone else.  And maybe we all need a four day nap.  Makes me feel less old to think of it that way.

Here’s hoping you all have a wonderful and safe New Year’s Eve, and that we all get a little more sleep in 2011!


Make your bed!

I can’t talk a lot about my work, though there are many many stories to tell.  Amusing stories, amazing stories, unbelievable stories.  But privacy rules insist that I keep them to myself.  My job is to look deeply into people’s lives; into their employment, assets,  credit histories and collateral.  And after checking everything out, I decide whether or not to let them borrower money.  Sometimes a lot of money.

One of the more fun things about my work is that I get to look at a lot of houses.  I love looking at houses.  I’d be a Realtor if it weren’t for having to work with people.  And all those weekend hours.  But these days in my job I get to look at home appraisals from all over the country.   And the really cool thing is that since all the craziness of the mortgage boom busted and rules have tightened the appraisers have to provide interior photos!

Back in the old days – pre graduate school – appraisals didn’t have interior photos, and I’d see pictures of houses I’d like, and wish I could see what they were like inside.  Well, now all appraisals have interior photos!  And guess what?  People are clutter crazy!  And many of them don’t make their beds!  This doesn’t effect the value of their home, but it does make me smile.  I don’t think people realize the appraiser has to take pictures inside now.

Cause if they did maybe they’d at least put the toilet seat down.


Getting her affairs in order

Yesterday when I heard that Elizabeth Edwards had only “weeks” to live I was reminded of a friend of mine.  Sallie and I had been friends since junior high; played in the band together since 6th grade, designed the “senior show” together for the high school marching band our senior year.  When as a kid I got my drivers license the very first place I drove alone was to  Sallie’s house a couple miles down a empty country road.  We went to college together and were roommates our senior year.  She went on to be an executive with a big accounting firm in Denver.  I became a bank manager in Michigan.  We stayed in touch and she surprised me at my wedding by flying in with her husband unannounced to attend.

Shortly after my wedding she was diagnosed with leukemia.  A rare childhood version of leukemia.  She fought it valiantly, and none of us thought it would kill her.  If anyone could beat this illness, Sallie could.  We never doubted that.   She went into remission.  Then came out.    She went to Seattle and had a bone marrow transplant and went back into remission.  Then it struck again and she went to Houston for treatment.  My husband and I went down for a week to take care of her while her husband went back to Denver to check on the dogs and their mail.

Back in remission she was sent home and was well for a few months but then it was back.  The doctors told her, like Mrs. Edwards, that more treatment would not be beneficial.  That she should get her affairs in order.  She called me that night from Denver.  “This is the call you didn’t want to hear,” she said.  I sank to the floor as she told me the news.  “They told me I have a couple of months.”  I couldn’t breath, couldn’t speak.  I told her I needed to get my head around this news, and that I’d call her the next day.

Her husband called me later that evening and told me it wasn’t likely to be a couple months, more likely a week or so.  I spent that night writing Sallie a letter, telling her how much I loved her, how much we all gained by knowing her, having her in our lives.  I went to work late the next morning so that I could go to the post office and overnight the letter to her.

Sallie died while I was standing in line.

So when I heard the news yesterday that Elizabeth Edwards had a couple of weeks, that treatment wouldn’t be productive I knew.  Sadly I knew that it wouldn’t be a couple weeks, it wouldn’t likely be a couple of days.  This morning as I drove to work I thought of her.  On my drive home I heard that she had died today.

Perhaps when the end is near terminally ill people – those safe in the knowledge they are loved –  can relax and just let go.  They’ve already done everything they need to do, said all they need to say.  I want to believe they peacefully move to the next space.

Sallie was valedictorian of my high school class, brilliant at accounting, , a talented musician, athletically inclined.  She was generally first to do anything and always did it well.  Over these many years since she died I have often thought that she was just doing her job by being the first of all of us to move on to the next adventure.  I know she’s waiting for the rest of us to join her someday.

I hope Mrs. Edwards is beginning a new adventure as well, and that those she left behind can take some comfort from knowing that she knew she was loved.  In the end that’s all that matters.

Some day I’ll tell you all about Sallie and my “Adventure in the North with the Wandering Tree Planters.”  I have lots of Sallie stories.  May the Edwards children hold their own stories close to their heart.

God speed Elizabeth.


Random thoughts

There are all sorts of thoughts bumping around in my work and holiday distracted brain.  None of them are significant enough to write a blog entry of any substance.  So here are some random thoughts I had this week.

While walking down the 4 flights of stairs at the end of a very long day of work:   If I had my druthers I would be living on that island  Kathy talked about over on her blog.    And that walking up and down the stairs each day isn’t really about the exercise.  It’s about avoiding conversation in the elevator.  Yep.  I’m a hermit.

While working in my cube:  I overheard a woman across the aisle bitterly dissing her parents  who were driving two days to visit her, but wouldn’t provide her a specific arrival time.  She thought they were so thoughtless, that they didn’t care that she had to have things ready for them but didn’t even know when they would arrive.  I bit my lip and didn’t tell her that I’d give a lot to have my parents driving cross country to visit me.  And that it wouldn’t particularly matter exactly when they arrived.  Just that they arrived safely.  Silly woman.   Someday she’ll know, like we all know eventually, what it’s like not to have any parents at all.

While driving to work early in the dark morning:  Note to high speed driver in dark sedan who passed  five of us traveling down the  narrow,windy dirt road in the last 1/2 mile before the stop sign.  What was so important that you had to be moving that fast?  That caused you to pass each of us individually, whether we were on a hill or a curve?  To risk your life, all of our lives and the lives of some innocent going the other way?  And when we all got to the stop sign and you, at the front of the line, had to wait while a string of cars went by on the main road, all of us lined up behind you, did you recognize how little time you had made up?  Tomorrow will you risk less?

This morning, while playing “where’s Mama” while attempting to distract Katie-dog from wanting me to get up and take her out in the dark early hours of a weekend:  I flung the sheets up over my face and waited; still, hardly breathing, I waited in anticipation of Katie’s pounce.  Except she didn’t pounce right away.  Not even a little bit more than right away.  I could hardly stand it.  I was just going to move the sheet a little bit, check on what she was doing, when I realized I had less patience than an almost 4 year old Sheltie!

And finally, Katie’s thought for the week:  Sometimes if you are very short you have to lick the condensation away from the front door in order to see out properly.

Have a great weekend everyone!


Bookended Beige

I sit in a beige cubicle all day.  Beige padded walls, beige desk, dirty white tiled ceiling marked by a huge water stain from a leak prior to my time.  Florescent light just off center, shared by me and the person in the beige cubicle next door.   We work in a paperless world now;  no piles of work break up the emptiness.  No in basket, no out basket.  Just that beige expanse and the computer in the corner with it’s never ending flicker.  As jail cells go it’s not so bad.  Still.

This week the weather has provided some amazing sunsets on my drive home from work.  And often as I’ve driven into work I’ve headed directly into a golden peach sunrise, sometimes studded with clouds lit up in brilliant purples.  So much color and unbelievable beauty make those crazy commutes less stressful.

It occurred to me last night while driving into a beautiful violet and pink sunset that perhaps God was book-ending my dreary beige days to give me something to smile about.

It’s working.


Lost in the music

Tonight was my first concert in a very long time.  The first time in years that I was sitting in the band rather than out in the audience.  It’s heaven.  I wish everyone could have the experience of being in the music; to hear the sounds as they’re being created before the notes head out over the heads of the audience.

This was our “Spooktacular” concert filled with scary music about snakes and magic and phantoms.  In fact we had our very own phantom, a tenor with a beautifully powerful voice, who sang music from Phantom of the Opera while we accompanied him.  He was singing about 18 inches from where I sat, and on a couple of occasions during the long piece of music I actually stopped playing, mesmerized by the power of his voice.

I didn’t want that piece of music to end, because when again will I be surrounded by sounds so exquisite, be so close to a voice like that?  I was treasuring it while it was happening, enjoying the full-up feeling of being totally happy, glad to be in the moment.

I said before that if everyone could play music, either alone, or with large groups, if everyone could get that special high from making something beautiful, if everyone in the world could create something, something so elusive, so transparent, so temporary, but so solid and powerful, if everyone could make music the world would be better.  I still believe that.

Wishing each of you days filled with wonder, music and art.  It can’t hurt.


Rejoice! The recession is over!

Heard on the radio during my long commute home tonight that the recession was officially over back in June of 09.  Gee.  Guess they forgot to tell us that up here in Michigan.  What with our unemployment still over 15% we must not have noticed all the rejoicing in the streets back then.  I know I was still employed in a library, albeit part time.  And that I got laid off in October of 2009.

I’m pretty sure I heard that one group making this astounding announcement was a University of Michigan research group.  Huh.  That would be the same university that assured us that many librarians were retiring and that the job outlook for people with my degree looked promising.

Credibility is a bit lacking.  Just saying.


101 in 1001 days

More than a year ago Melanie posted about putting together a list of 101 things she wanted to accomplish, enjoy, experience or learn in the next 1001 days.  I think there was a website that helped her set up her list but I don’t remember.  A while ago she updated us on her progress…which reminded me that the whole thing was something I was interested in doing.

Sort of my own bucket list.

So I started building my own list of 101 things I wanted to do.  But I got stuck.  So far I have only listed 52 things.  And I’ve been working on this off and on since the first of August.  I’m thinking that because I’m already over 50 and have experienced many amazing things that I just might not have 101 things left to do.  I’m not sure if that is a good or a bad thing.

Maybe I should take the leap and just do it.  Just because I can’t find 101 things there’s no reason I have to wait to start this.  Who made the rules anyway?  Who says you can’t add to the list even as you’re checking things off?  Or is it cheating if I only have 52 things to accomplish in 1001 days?  Should I get the 52 things done in 500 days?

And how do you figure out the date 1001 days away anyway?


Walking in the fog

It’s been so warm here, the kind of warm I remember from childhood.  You remember…when you were a kid before houses had air conditioning and you slept on top of your sheets with your pj’s sticking to you and the window of your bedroom open so that the hot air outside could mingle with the hot air inside and your skin felt sticky and your pillow was hot…well…that’s how hot it’s been here these past couple of weeks.

Yesterday morning we woke to fog, and it felt a bit cooler, though maybe that was just an illusion brought on by the gray light and the cooling droplets of mist that stuck to my face and in my hair.  Since I’m still “in training” for that big 10 mile race coming up at the end of the month I decided I’d take myself for a walk before the sun got too strong and burned away the only bit of cool we’ve had in a long time.

So off I went.  The first mile ended at an overpass where as I watched the cars I realized that I was lucky I wasn’t headed off to work when so many people had to, especially those that were getting ready for a new school year to begin.

I’ve been thinking that I need to find work somewhere, and that the odds of me finding it as a librarian are slim…and getting slimmer.  Maybe I’m going to have to start expanding the criteria of work that I’m willing to do.  Maybe I’ll have to defer the dream job for awhile.  Though it sure was fun to dream.

Deep in contemplation I walked further down roads I haven’t walked in a good long time.  Past the golf course which was surprisingly (to me anyway) busy for a foggy weekday morning.

I walked six miles in total, and as the fog lifted I came across my favorite photo of the walk – the side of a barn covered in vines and layers of paint.

Isn’t it beautiful?  It’s sat on the side of this road for many years and I wonder how many people have enjoyed it’s colors prior to me wandering by.  It spoke to me, as if to say; “I’ve been around a long time and I’m still here.  You’ll weather this economic downturn  fine… you may end up with a few surprising colors of paint, but you’ll survive…just like me.”

It was a good walk.