Friday, February 26, 2010

The Constancy Waltz

Life is not offering much in the way of fun and encouragement these days, so the thing to do is sing. So here's one of my songs.
Once upon a time, a long time ago, someone said to me, "I'm making a list of people who I want to be in the nursing home with me, and you're on it." I thought this was a high compliment, and in the spirit of that compliment, I wrote this song.
It's as much about friendship as romantic love - it's about marriage, and other challenging relationships.
I made a video last night that I am replacing with a new one. In this one I remember all the words! Yay!

A brief word about my hair: this is how it looks right after I wash it these days. It has taken two years to get it this long. I had the idea that I could be this aging hippie woman with long flying frizzy gray locks. So far, so good. Then I thought I could let it get long, and then cut off the length and donate it to one of those organizations that make wigs for people who have lost their hair for medical reasons. It seemed like the most effortless way of doing good. What could be easier or cheaper than letting your hair grow? Well, for whatever reason, it's long and some days, like this morning, I want to grab hold of it and whack it off, but I haven't yet. One of the cool things about it - people don't recognize me with long hair. Kinda fun to walk through a small town where you've lived for decades and not be recognized.
Song: The Constancy Waltz, copyright 1987, 2010, Mary Litchfield Tuel. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why Don't I Get a Job?

This question has been directed to me so many times lately that I thought I would address it.
Yes, we are in dire straits financially. Rick, my husband, who was our sole support, has been unable to work since last October 5. We have lived since then on the incredible kindness and generosity of friends and family, and what savings we had. It is truly mind-blowing, to use the idiom of my youth, how kind and generous people have been. Some have gone so far as to contribute more than once, which at this time, when we are in the gap between our resources and Rick's disability payments and my Social Security, means more than ever.
People who are not in a position to give money have given from their hearts – time and love and art and chocolate, gifts both tangible and intangible, which have carried us through.
The obvious question that occurs to many well-meaning (and perhaps some not so well-meaning, I'm not naming any names here) people, is, why don't I get a job?
The first time I was on the receiving end of this rather sharp question, I was flabbergasted. I muttered about how I couldn't work because of various physical disabilities – my crappy knee, my broken back, nerve damage, chronic fatigue, etc., none of which cut any ice with my interrogator. I should get a job sitting down. I should type envelopes at home.
“There, I fixed it.”
Now that I've been hit with the question a couple more times, I'm starting to get my smart ass together: “Oh, I dunno. I guess I'm just a slacker.”
Another answer might be to slap my head and say, “Why didn't I think of that? A job! Of course!”
Maybe as I get it more together I'll be able to put together a written response which I can print up and hand to people. This is a start on that response.
One friend suggested that I reply thus: “OK, you come over to my house and take over what I do. Fill out and copy and organize the paperwork for Social Security, DSHS, the Kidney Program, the hospital, the IRS, various doctors and utilities and whoever else is standing in line with a hand out for our identity, income, and intentions. Figure out how to pay the bills and balance the check book and buy the groceries on what money we have. Buy the groceries - make sure there's coffee and cheerios and toilet paper and paper towels - and the prescription drugs and other requirements of Rick's illness. Drive Rick to his various appointments, procedures, and surgeries. Wait while he's there, or run errands that need to be done. Cook meals, wash some dishes, keep laundry moving, sweep and vacuum floors now and then, pick up the mail, pay the taxes, licensing fees, insurance premiums, etc. Keep track of the paperwork and dates regarding the lawsuit that has been laid on us by the woman who fell off our porch and wants lots of money. Come on over and do this and whatever else that comes up – cleaning out the perennially clogged storm drain, feeding the dog, making copies and typing dictation for Rick – do all that for me, and by golly, I will go look for a job.”
Of course I am fat and 61 and half crippled and don't have a degree and don't know all the computer programs that are mentioned in the job advertisements, but what the hell, I can get some shit-paying clerical work I suppose. Maybe. I hear it's hard to find a job these days, but it's usually easier to find a shit job.
If all I had to do was go to work and come home, it would be a nice break. Unfortunately, if I had a job, I'd still have to do all that other stuff, and I'm already pretty tired.
So that's pretty much why I don't get a job.