Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sad sack

The beach at Castellammare, Pacific Palisades
 Sad Sack was an old comic strip character, dating from the 1940s. He was a lowly private in the U.S. Army, a poor dumb schlub experiencing bad luck, humiliation, and indignities at the hands of an uncaring establishment - and due to his own ineptness.

It's funny, though, to think of how one's sadness or depression would be something you carried along with you, in a sack, or a bag - a piece of scuffed up, awkward, burdensome luggage you can never check.

I've been feeling like a Sad Sack lately. It's 45 days until my job ends, and I still haven't succeeded in finding a new one. Job hunting is always a challenge, and I know from experience how much you have to deal with rejection and uncertainty when you job hunt. But knowing that doesn't makes me feel any less like a failure, and that makes me sad. I regret imagined things I might have done to deserve this; I think of opportunities I failed to rise to. I feel like I am carrying my sack of Sad along with me in everything I do, these days.

Back on the Beach Cafe, at the Annenberg Community Beach House (Thanks, Fred!)
But you know what? Part of the reason I haven't succeeded in getting a job is because, deep inside, I don't think I really want a job. I think, secretly, I want a break. I want to stop working.

Then, of course, I feel guilty. I feel obligated to get another job, to contribute to our family. So, not only do I feel like a failure, I also feel like a selfish shit for wanting to stop working.

Enough for you yet? No? Well, then, how about this - when I think about Not Working, I think of all the wonderful, creative, exciting opportunities I am presented with when I have free time. But when I sit down and try to plan what to do after July1, I come up blank. This blog shows how much writer's block I have been experiencing. Talk about being a Sad Sack!

I've been working with a Life Counselor (she has helped me immensely with my resume) and we are working on trying to visualize goals, and set up pathways to meet them. I went to a session and found myself very frustrated, because I was supposed to bring back to the table a list of goals, and I had, literally, nothing. I could think of nothing.

It's been an odd time, these last few months. I have some idle time on my hands. I've been driving back and forth on Pacific Coast Highway, always looking at the water, thinking of how I should pull over my car and just sit there on the sand. But when I do, the sun is too hot, it's inhospitable, I'm thirsty, I can't relax. I never stay long, never linger - just get back in the car and go to work, or the grocery, or home.

Sculpture at the UCLA/Santa Monica Medical Center
This morning, after a routine mammogram I had on Monday, I got a callback from the UCLA Women's Imaging Center. They wanted to schedule another session - they needed to get another image of the left breast. At first, it sounded like they just didn't get a good shot, but then the caller said they also wanted an ultrasound, "to make sure." I scheduled an appointment for tomorrow afternoon.

About eight years ago, I also had to go back for another image after a routine mammogram. It turned out to be a little cyst in my left breast, which they aspirated with a needle. It proved to be totally benign, and subsequent mammograms turned up nothing. As I expect tomorrow's session will do.

This evening, though, I think I might have had a breakthrough on the goal-setting thing.

Tomorrow, I am buying a beach umbrella, a mat or blanket for the sand, and a little cooler. And maybe a split of champagne to go in it. And I will pull my car over and sit there on the beach. I promise myself.


My Unfinished Life said...

job hunting is really depressing ..i know!!
bets of luck ya!!

M. Bouffant said...

Tomorrow, I am buying a beach umbrella, a mat or blanket for the sand, and a little cooler. And maybe a split of champagne to go in it.
There you go! I was going to advise you to stop beating up on yourself, but you got the message.

And for crying out loud, if you don't have/need to work, don't! I hear people of a certain age (ours) aren't doing well in employment especially not w/ equivalent-paying gigs in one's chosen field. If you're getting unemployment that should be enough contribution.

Fingers crossed on that other stuff. Early detection is always good, even for cysts.

Deborah said...

If you don't think you really want to work, and you don't absolutely have to work, then don't work! I'm not at all sure that a plan is required for day one. Maybe you could just show up at the beach on July 1 with your umbrella and cooler, and do some thinking or some reading. Then let life steer you along the way. Oh, and leave the sack at home that day!

Anonymous said...

Oh Aunt Snow, I feel your pain. It is time to take care of you. Listen to the Universe, it is telling you something.

I left my job a year sooner than I had planned. No unemployment, no compensation, just left ...with hat in hand. I felt guilty about not contributing too. But you know what? It was the best thing I ever did. I am no longer defined by my job, I am just me doing what I want when I want. I hardly have enough time in the day to get it all in. My volunteer work is more fullfilling than any work I was ever paid for.

My advice, let it be. Buy those beach things and let it be. Once you stop to listen to the universe you'll know what to do.


Kizz said...

I think the fact that you're still regularly taking photos is encouraging. You're just having trouble with words. It'll come. That beach umbrella goal sounds DIVINE! Please keep us posted.

Anonymous said...

Being patient with oneself is one of the hardest things to do...

Janet said...

I've had that call back far, all is well!

We're having quite a few layoffs here...because of the government slowdown. I just hope I'm not one of them!

Yes, hi, I'm 56, 4 years out from cancer surgery, overweight, bad memory...want me? LOL! Yikes!

Enjoy that beach, and like others have said, if you don't have to work...don't! Enjoy your time!

smalltownme said...

Good luck with the medical stuff and I hope you do get a chance to pull over. We rush by things in life so often....

OK, I've decided I'm going to go to our local waterfall tomorrow, something I have been thinking about for months and just keep putting off.

ilyanna said...

Sometimes we all get to the point where an umbrella and a chair and a cooler are the only solutions. I'm glad you are going to sit. Time, space, breath -- all good things. you'll find your path eventually, but it may take a while.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Take some time and hang in there, Aunt Snow.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Good luck with the ultrasound. About the umbrella... you've deserved some beach time.

Claudia from Idiot's Kitchen said...

I'm just getting caught up after a week away so I'm glad to see in the next post that you got good news from your test.

I think it is interesting that you say you are having trouble with the words but your blog is still so very eloquent. I love your writing and hope it brings you as much pleasure to write this blog as it does me (and us) to read it.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Aunt Snow, you know that my husband retired just shy of age 48. He has had people tell him he is too young to be retired and many ask when he will go back to work. (Probably never!) At times he has felt guilty for not working. (And I confess, at times, I've made sure one of us left the house for the day!) But here's the thing: his last job was one he was good at doing, but it was stressful, unpleasant and in the end it didn't bring satisfaction. He is much happier, more relaxed, and content now. He putters in the garden, he rides his bike on trails in the state park, and he's improving his fitness level. Life doesn't have to be lived at the level society tells us we need to live.
At our house, I'm the one who has suffered the crisis of feeling unneeded (he took over much of the cooking and grocery shopping). I no longer contribute at the levels needed for the previous 21 years. And it has taken nearly 2 years but I am finding some new purposes, new outlets.
Give yourself time. Those blocks will loosen and you will discover all of the creativity that has been dammed up by this past year of turmoil. I'm betting that it will come out in a rush.