I applied for a job today, as a clinical social worker at the large children’s hospital around the corner, the one that lands helicopters 50 yards from our balcony. I didn’t apply in person and the online form was mercifully short and to the point so it wasn’t an option to go on endlessly about my life achievements. I didn’t even have to put in dates- just list some education and work history.
Then I moped around reading a sordid little novel, The Ice Harvest, for a fews hours while waiting to pass away of boredom. The cat, sleeping in her bed 20 hours a day, is leading a more interesting life and I’m sure she isn’t pommeling herself with guilt as she dozes. After I finished that book I considered how miserable I might be if I do go back to work full time and then considered how miserable I’ll be when no one ever calls me about my application.
I decided to get out my resume, or curriculae vitae or whatever one calls it and spruce it up. That has cast me further still into a sea of despair. Frankly, if that resume came across my desk I would think, "Impressive. And what year did you say this person died?" It’s laughable really. I trained with T. Berry Brazelton and Selma Fraiberg but at this point in time, that’s like saying I trained with Sigmund Freud. I’m that old.
The thing is, a year ago, as a fifty-five year old kinda youthful psychotherapist, I was busy and productive, helping people. Thirty times a week, on average, someone came through my office door and we sat down to tackle their psychic aches and pains, often quite successfully. Adolescents and children and adults of all ages and none of them acted as though they were seeing a demented and distracted geriatric has been. If they thought it, they politely kept it to themselves and continued coming. I had a waiting list.
What’s clear to me now is that, towards the end of a career, a person would be well advised to just hunker down until they are really and truly done with their work life because starting over is not attractive. In fact, it’s downright harsh.
I remember being absolutely delighted that both of my children had the same bright and sparkly first grade teacher who was well into her fifties. She had all the very best attributes of experience, knowledge and dedication; she retained enough energy and yet she was pleasantly calm and mellowed and because she had seen it all, my children’s issues were normalized, brought down to size and made manageable. But now, imagine that same matronly woman walking into the board of education front office, presenting herself for a new position. She’s not all that exciting or innovative to look at. You see what I mean here?
My father was a very successful young business man in the world of marketing and promotions when he started at Ford Tractor in the late 40s. From there he went on to his own marketing agency and his professional life flourished. In the 70’s, when he was in his fifties, the bottom fell out of the economy in Oklahoma and advertising agencies went under daily. His did and in the end, because advertising was a young man’s profession, he worked at a convenience store/gas station. He did it mostly because he couldn’t stand to be idle. I think about that and I feel some significant shame that I’d prefer to sit around and read, knit and garden than go to work doing something that feels beneath me.
I do believe that volunteer effort is a profound force in this country and I would be hard pressed to give up the volunteer work I do now and if I work full time, well, that’s a problem. So is going to Florida. In fact, the likely solution to this midlife crisis (ha! who am I kidding? I would have to live to be 110 and have my face on a jelly jar for this to be midlife.) is to step up my volunteer efforts. St. Vincent de Paul Society world headquarters is also right around the corner and they have numerous outreach programs involving very young children and their parents as well as a large outreach program for the homeless. So I could go over there tomorrow and see what’s up. There’s still the problem of the obsolete resume. And the fluid retention.
Here are some pictures of a small courtyard renovation I did by myself, for what it’s worth. Well, I had the nice immigrants put the stone in, but I did the design and planting and lights and fountain and power washing…It takes exactly 7 minutes to weed and fertilize and deadhead the entire thing. It’s too tidy for my taste but small space eliminates the possibility of a rambly cottage garden. I did manage to incorporate the bleeding heart salvaged from my grandmother’s garden over three decades ago, plus the tulips my sister gave me last year and that big rock is a piece of marble we moved that marked the grave of a most favored cat, Velcro. Sophie likes the fresh dirt. Still, with all modesty, I’ll suggest that it looks as good as the 20,000. courtyard renovation the neighbor had done recently. People here in Chicago have a lot of money and hire a lot of stuff done while they go work at productive professional careers. Dammit.
*It’s not the ending of the world
It’s only the closing of a discotheque
I used to go three times a week
But that was a long long time ago
Yeah, that was a long long time ago
And that roaring that you hear
Is only the blood that circles constantly
No it is not applause my dear
No, that was a long long time ago
That was a long long time ago
Ooh, oh ooh
In between stations I can hear
A million possibilities
It’s only the singing of the stars
That burned out a long long time ago
They burned out a long long time ago (David Byrne)