I am so very glad the first decade of this century is finally over! I suggest we all have a glass of Chardonnay and celebrate the fact we have made it to the mid-way point of 2010! I guess I should consider myself a bit lucky, I hit the holy trifecta of shit storms this past decade. Job loss. Job loss. Oh, and lest I forget; Job loss. I know, I know it could be worse. But I figure that since this was decade of the ‘aughts’? Well, I ‘aught’ not to have shown up.
I did indeed start off the new century with a bang. As a matter of fact I rung in the new year of the 21st Century just the way I had planned it! Since I was a small girl it was my dream to spend New Year’s Eve 1999 in New York. And I did! Upstate New York that is, socked in by a snowstorm with three small children. All three of them bored and sick. Just. Lovely. I should’ve known then that it wasn’t going to be my year, let alone my decade.
Aught one started off with a bang. Being hauled off to jail on New Year’s Day should have been my first clue. (More on this later, however I guarantee you; it isn’t remotely what you’re thinking. Unfortunately it doesn’t even involve alcohol, which, had I known then, would have been flowing freely through my veins before the whole sordid incident even began). Yet in spite of this, and other setbacks, I soldiered on and the next three years flew by. Nothing like being a single parent and working a high level corporate job to make the time fly right by.
Despite the hushed water cooler discussions that the corporation I was currently slaving for would be ‘re-organizing’ the year 2003 rang in quite well. The last months of 2002 had passed with nary a peep from the big birds up-top. The way I figured it I had dodged a bullet. In ‘Big Corporate Land’ layoffs usually take place in the fourth quarter of the year. These ‘right-sizing’s’ are conveniently timed to completely destroy your winter holidays in true Rambo-esque fashion, while still providing stock holders with a nifty stocking stuffer. Perfect! That’s a win-win situation the way big corporations see it. However in 2003 my own demise came on a beautiful, quintessential spring day. Four months in to the new year. The sun was shining, the air teeming with butterflies, flowers were blooming, and birds singing away in the sky. The fact that Taps was playing as the background music for my own hubristic fall didn’t change the weather at all.
As for the rest of 2003? I seem to have blocked that out completely. I think it something to do with being unemployed, slogging around the house all day too depressed to do much but sleep until five, upon which time I could begin my chardonnay induced way back to sleep again. I blew through large chunk of my savings but came out with my credit rating intact. I know my priorities. Sigh.
Which brings us to 2004 through to 2008, the 'meat' of the decade, so to speak. My salad days looked to be behind me. Of course I got another position. I made more money, I bought a bigger house. I got engaged and then un-engaged, sold my house for a big profit and used said funds to continue the epic custody-battle raging with my ex-husband, and discovered the man I was dating was cheating on me. With another man. Oh, wait. Not so good maybe? Ya think?
Usher in 2009! Such a year! Hushed water cooler discussions again become reality as the corporation I was working for went through yet another ‘streamlining’. Read; massive layoffs numbering in the thousands. What with my being female, over forty, and making a salary some CEO’s make today (okay, small CEO’s with very small companies, minute even) I had no illusions my head was not on the chopping block. Had the stressed conversations in the women’s room not clued me in, when I came into the boardroom that final day, and the guillotine was dripping fresh blood? Ya, I would’ve known then.
So here I was; two children in college, one in high school, and no income. Perfect end to the perfect decade! Oh yeah, things had never looked rosier. If of course you consider ‘rosy’ to be akin to standing at the top of a landfill,smelling rotting garbage. In 110 degree heat. Again; Just. lovely. Do you see what I mean about not showing up? If I had my choice I would return this decade right back to the powers-that-be and demand a refund! Or at least a do-over.
So once again, I sold a home, paid off my ex-husbands attorneys and the kids college tuitions and ….nothing. I had a grand total of $237.00 of ‘available’ cash in the bank. Oh, and no truly acceptable to live. And no job. No worries.
Enter my Fairy Godmother, or ‘The Savioress’ as I have come to call my Mother. I got a call from her on one of the mornings I was still dressed in my old robe, once again slogging through my house, packing boxes, and sipping Chardonnay. (A message to you Teetotalers out there: If you’ve never been laid off, you have absolutely no room to judge. As one of my favorite authors, Celia Rivenbark would say, ‘You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning’! Gimme a break here for chrise sakes. No intervention was involved! Needed perhaps, but not involved).
‘You know,’ my mother says, ‘we' were thinking, we’re out here in this big house with plenty of room. Why don’t you just say here for awhile'?
See why I love the Saviouress? She could have said, ‘Hey, loser daughter? Your dad and I see that basically if we don’t take you in nobody else will and you and our beloved Princess and only granddaughter will have nowhere to live and we just can’t bear to see her living on the streets’, but she didn’t. She helped me save face. A little. If I had to crawl home I guess it was much better to do so under the cover of my daughter’s pending homelessness than by, say, showing up at their door, my remaining belongings stuffed into garbage bag, and begging for shelter myself. Me they would have sent packing.
The Saviouress and I discussed the logistics, like what to do with the belongings currently residing in my own four bedroom home. And my dog. Oh, and of course the Princess. After much discussion it was decided that the majority of my belongings would go into storage, be sold on Craig’s list or simply given away to charity. I chose to donate quite a bit of my excess bedroom furniture (beautiful, of course, expensive, all of it), bedding included, to help furnish a shelter for abused women and children. I feel kind of bad about that though, because once those kiddies get the feel of those 1000 count sheets? Well, they ain’t never goin’ back!
I was really grateful to The Saviouress, but it didn’t change the fact that I was looking forward to the fifth decade of my life jobless. Again. So I did what every high level well paid corporate exec would do; I hung up the phone, slogged down the rest of my wine, and cried for the rest of the night.
**Follow Kay Bergey’s RED ROOM blog for more on her mid-life crisis as well as the various and sundry other crises that make up her life!**
 A note here about my mother and father: They are now a ‘we’. I guess that’s what happens when you live with someone for greater than 80% of your life. You meld together psychically and become a ‘we’. My mother used to differentiate between her and my father. As in ‘I think you should come stay here for awhile and I really don’t care if your father agrees or not’. Weird. Seeing as the amount of time I have spent ‘married’ totals about .001% of my life I just don’t really understand. however. I digress.
 To the guy who got my 52’’ HD TV : Enjoy, buddy! And yes that was a rockin’ deal.