What is this “vested” that you speak of?

Welcome to my birthday pity party.

Invitations extended and none accepted. Go home.

Now that you’ve been warned…

Higher education is a scam, like home ownership. Nanodegrees and vocations are the way to go.

CK sent me an email that his contract flip resulted in no loss of pay or benefits. The man still makes $80k/annually with 3 weeks of PTO (in addition to 1.5 weeks of sick leave). And his greatest responsiblity is to give weekly powerpoint presentations. He has no higher education. No skills (other than powerpoint).

And I’m less than 24 hours from 42 and have never had a vested position. I don’t even know what that means except that I know I’ve never had it. What I have had are two careers that dumped me (yes, like a break-up that I didn’t see coming and felt betrayed by). Since then, flipping daddies every year or two as a contractor. Even the military doesn’t want me back unless I agree to go overseas for another year right out of the gate. Another year. That would make 8 years in shit-holes. Nope. Not that desperate yet.

So here I am, earning near-minimum wage, graduating with a worthless MBA degree in 4 weeks. I can’t even call this a do-over because that would implicate that I’m in a position that might lead to something, like retirement. That was the goal when I went back to school. Seeking stability, retirement, paid time off and a 401k. F*ck, I’m old.

And yet I count down the minutes to closing time and cry in the shower because I don’t want to come to this job. I have no sense of accomplishment at work anymore. Everything is broken here from the people that work here, to the people that come here seeking help to the programs and processes used in this bloated, inefficient agency. And I cant fix it. I can only get chewed up and spit out by the machine.

I’m 42 and everything I’ve done, everything I’ve accomplished has led me to…this.

And I’m stuck in the grinder.

Of those few interviews that I do get, they must smell one of three things I’m wearing: Defeat. Desperation. Resentment.

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Lola Schmoozy the Aging Showgirl

41 for 24 more hours.

When did my headlights begin pointing toward the ground?

And note to self: any comedic value of a pratfall is lost if you sell it so well that the audience thinks you really did hurt yourself. Admittedly, jumping into the splits and then pretending I couldn’t get up during our Cabaret troupe’s performance Saturday night might not have been the best idea after 6 months out of my fitness/dance routine. The girls made a show of helping me get back up while I flopped and limped and groaned about how I was getting too old for this (and yeah, I felt it the next day). I thought it was funny but maybe it was just pathetic, the sight of a 40-something overweight woman sausaged into a corset tighter than Beyonce.

My Army BFF “S” told me that midst his own depression, one of his coworkers committed suicide. It sobered him up. The man jumped ship with five kids, a gorgeous wife and a $100k/year job. It’s a reminder that even for someone who appears to “have it all”, it may not be enough to keep them grounded. I think we all wonder “What would be ‘enough’?” What would it take to make us happy and if not happy then content? I don’t recall which book or essay I read it in and of course I’m paraphrasing but C.S. Lewis mentioned that we can only glimpse happiness in this life. We are not meant to be content here or we would never wish for something better, which is promised to us by G-d. That’s if you believe in the Happily Every Afterlife story in the first place.

Depression has been rearing it’s ugly head in my life again too. I may just be very, very tired. Constant hum of pain in my body, up too late doing school assignments after work and entire weekends spent doing the same. I woke up this morning with a sore throat, congestion and thought “C’mon, the day before I leave to hike Canada?” I hope it doesn’t turn out to be another “Scotland trip” where I was sick, tired and in pain slogging over the land miserably and coming home even more exhausted than before I left. I expect to be physically tired from this trip but refreshed. At least, that is the intent. So I took Mucinex, swabbed my nose with Zicam and brought a bag of Ricola to work. Now the countdown to 4:30pm begins. I still have some gear packing to do and I want to be in bed by 8pm because Im up at 4a to catch the 1st leg out. I wish I had the leave time to take today off just to rest and prep.

The itinerary the rest of the week will be strenuous. I planned it that way. Hiking, biking, and rafting. Headwinds, incline, miles and miles. I don’t do relaxing vacations. I plan scenic punishments. Partly to prove I can still do it. And if I fall off a mountain and don’t make it home, I’ve proven myself wrong.

I also changed the settings on my Facebook page so I don’t have to clean up 100 generic “happy birthday” comments from people who don’t think of me 364 days out of the year until Facebook prompts them to tell me “happy birthday”. Bah humbug.