Friday, September 26, 2008

Passionate about 9 to 5?

Early this spring, (April 17, 2008) I read an editorial that stuck with me. And since I seem to be in a funk, depressed with my job, unsatisfied with my career choices, I thought I'd reflect on it a bit.

If you have a moment, read the whole article, about a new generation bringing with it different ideas of what a job should be.
Life’s Work: Prepping Children for the 9 to 5

“This generation has been spoon-fed self-esteem cereal for the past 22 years... They’ve been told it’s all about them — what they want, what they are passionate about, what they find fulfilling. That’s not a bad message, but it’s also not a complete message.”

Daniel H. Pink’s new book is designed to fix that. “The Adventures of Johnny Bunko” (Riverhead Trade) is a career guide cum manga comic designed to appeal to the newest entrants to the workplace. During the illustrated tale, the title character learns six lessons that Gen Y workers might not have fully absorbed at home...

Rule No. 3 might apply: It’s Not About You. “Yes, work should be fulfilling, but there are different kinds of fulfillment,” Mr. Pink said. “There’s a deep sense of satisfaction that comes from serving someone else well — serving the customer well, giving a client something they didn’t know they needed.”

...Rule No. 4: Persistence Trumps Talent. “We need to return to stressing doggedness,” Mr. Pink said.

...Rule No. 1: There Is No Plan. “It’s nice to believe you can map out every step ahead of time and end up where you want,” Mr. Pink wrote in his book. “But that’s a fantasy. The world changes. Ten years from now, your job might be in India. Your industry might not even exist. And you’ll change, too. You might discover a hidden talent. Take a job because it will let you do interesting work in a cool place,” even if you “don’t know exactly where it will lead.”

In a nutshell, the article is discussing the plight which I am facing now. "What appears to be a complex contradiction, he said — that work can be glorious but grinding, worthwhile and wretched, a place you can’t wait to get to and can’t wait to leave, something you love but hate to do — is actually the simple truth."

Here I am, stuck at the upper age limit of Generation Y, wishing I could have a job that made me lots of money, but most of all fulfilled me, something I was completly passionate about. I don't know how I came to this conclusion, that I wanted a job that completed me, but there I am.

Everyday I hatch a new plan that is supposed to make me happy, make me fullfilled, make me an amazing housewife and an even more incredible woman. I want to be a writer, to be recognized around the world for what I write, and at the same time I don't write because I am often so tired when I come home I just want to sleep.

I wonder if I'm depressed? I have plans of going to law school, of getting my PhD in something/anything that will make me an expert in something, so I can both advance in my career in higher education, but also give me stronger credentials in writing. ahh... what to do?

I'm having a bit of a pity party tonight, watching the History channel's presentation on the czars of Russia (why didn't I learn about this before, I was a history major for pete's sake!). Please don't pay attention to my ranting and raving. Writing is cathartic, and makes me feel better about myself. :)

My options:
* Keep working at my job, doing the best I can do, and hopefully I'll be promoted or learn to be content with what I do.
* Go to law school, taking classes at night, and after 5-6 years become a lawyer.
* Get a PhD in Religious and Theologicial Studies- combining my intersest in the Bible, literature, history, and anthropology
* Get pregnant, and try to consume my life with my family and babies?

I'm a mess. Why can't I be just content and happy with the job that I have now?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Life and Times of Ella

My grandmother just passed away early this morning. I'm sad because I'll miss her, but am so grateful that she is no longer suffering. This is a letter she wrote my cousin Michelle about her life, and I stole it to put here.

Letter from Ella Bolton 12/25/03 (written when she was 93)

My parents: August W. Isaak and Justina Lousie Mayer got married in Naper, Nebraska in 1909—then they came to Idaho, where land was available, the gov't giving 160 acres to whoever wanted to homestead it. All was in sagebrush, so needed clearing before crops could be raised. So also a house or home had to be built, of course I wasn't born yet. But they got a shack put up. And I was born it it. Later they built a large house and the shack was a place for chickens. So I used to say I was born in a chicken house. The house I grew up in is still standing at my brother Bill's place. Nephew Sam lives in it. When I was old enough to go to school. My folks always talked German so they took in a teacher that understood German. She helped my mother to learn the English language. So she taught in the Neeley school, where I also went. I don't remember much about school then, only later I walked + my cousins the Mayer girls + boy did too, about a mile. My uncle took us with the buggy and in winter with the sled and two horses pulling. I went to Neeley school all eight grades. It was a 2 room school house 1rst thru 4 th grade in one room + other 5th thru 8th. At recess we played games outdoors hopscotch, Andy over ball over a barn, etc.

Sometimes we had lunch box socials, we fixed a shoe box fancy and fixed some food like a sandwich and cupcakes and our family took us eve's to school and whoever wanted to come. Then all the boxes were put together and some one auctioned them off and when all were sold we went to the one who bought my box. I remember a tall man got mine so we all ate our lunch. Maybe the money went to the school I don't know. We had programs and plays we put on. I remember I was a fat negro woman one time. Painted my face with something black that washed off easy. So those were fun days. I also played basketball boys and girls together. For last day of school we went to the lava's or somewhere.

Then to go to high school my cousin Leana Mayer and I stayed at my Grandma Mayers place, slept in basement. I don't even remember how we ate. Guess did our own cooking tho, I only went six weeks, my mother was expecting a baby so they needed me at home, I never went back. So I was in the teens, so went to work for people doing housework. We went to the German Baptist church those days. There was quite a group of young people we would get together on Sundays and visit, once a month we would go to a home play games my cousin Emil Mayer always saw that I got to go too. Later years I had a boyfriend, John Neuman, we went quite steady. My folks quit going to the Baptist and we went Pentecostal. So John didn't like Pentecostals so our friendship broke off.

I even cooked meals in the old hospital now owned by the American legion. Kitchen was in basement and a cement floor. Sometimes there was only 1 patient upstairs, sometimes 30. Also the nurses ate their meals there.

We, my folks and all of us children, went to Aberdeen (this is really before we had a church) in town. I might be a little mixed up about time, etc. Anyway, I told the evangelist wife I didn't go to High school so now what can I do, only do housework. She said she knew of the Bible school in Eugene, Ore. So gave me the address so I found out about it. They didn't require you had Hi school was only 4years since it started. It was the year of 1929, I was 19 years old, depression years, but the folks got enough money so I went by train to Eugene, hoping some one would meet me, a teacher who I had been writing to, Mrs. Perrin, came to the depot (by the way I went as far as Portland & had to go on another train to Eugene) sounds scary don't it? Anyway, we met and she took me to a family, as I was going to work for my room and board. I was there probably 6 months or more. I met a girl by name of Mildred Taylor, we became very good friends, she was also working for her room and board. So one time we decided if our parents could help us to rent a room and we would do our own cooking. So we did that the rest of the year and the 2 nd year also. I got to know about some Isaaks living in McMinville, so these people knew them lived in Eugene name Webers. So Webers took me to McMinnville for Christmas vacation. His name was Uncle John and she was Aunt Katie. There were several children there Dan, Ed, ad jobs. Emma older than me, and Clara and Helen younger. Some of them took me to Portland to see the homes with Christmas decorations, was fantastic.

Anyway, I got back to Eugene don't remember all details. But to school. I think for summer I must of gone to A.F. I don't remember. Mildred's folks lived about 50 miles from Eugene at a small town named Monroe so sometimes I went with her to her home. The school was only 2 years. I took some music lessons, a woman was also teaching some classes in the Bible. The Bible school was in the basement of the church called, Lighthouse Temple, had a big congregation and orchestra + choir. We students either were in the choir or orchestra. As students we went to nursing homes and jails to sing and talk also out of town, small towns on Fri. Eve's we held services.

To go home the 2nd summer a couple of lovely Christian's lived out of town a ways, said Mildred and I could come and stay with them they were Norwegian so we paid some money and they also let us drive there car to school. God is good! So they said they are going to North Dakota to visit so will take me home.

That summer a pastor from Firth asked if I would be interested in doing some mission work. SO I said I would, so I ended up in Horseshoe Bend, Idaho. A woman lived there in a parsonage belonged to the Methodists, she had bad eyes but held church if anyone came. We held street meetings, in town I had my guitar, so sang and talked. Can't think of her name, she had a small income from the Methodist organization. I didn't have any so gave a few music lessons. Received eggs and milk from the people, etc. We didn't have a car so had to walk if we wanted to go anywhere. Also one time we started to walk to Boise which is a long ways, a man driving the truck picked us up, He took me to my aunt Emma (dad's sister) and Uncle Bill Kiler's. Alvard(?) my cousin still lives there. Anyway, I just can't think the ladies name, who I lived with, she had some where else in Boise, and this truck driver took us and we said we will go back in 2 days, so he said he is going back too, so picked us up. Horseshoe Bend was more of a logging town. Now I understand it is a small city has a high school, big church, and shopping center.

A Christian couple came to town very seldom with an old time car with no top on. So took us up to their place in the mts, they had several milk cows, grazing out, he would send his dog to go get the cows and he would. His wife had an old fashioned air pump organ. I would play it and lady friend and I sang, and this rancher loved to sing as well so we had trio songs. We had Bible studies with them and they invited neighbors in. I remember the wife always made baking powder biscuits for breakfast. Don't know how long we stayed nor other details. Don't even remember how long I was in Horseshoe Bend, any way, a couple that was in Vale, Oregon holding meetings, trying to get a church started, stopped in and picked me up and went to Gooding, Idaho. A convention was there with a special speaker from England was there. My folks even came and brought Rowe Bolton with them as he was working at their place in the hay. I really didn't know him very well. All I know is I had my guitar with me & a string was broke so he took me to town & bought one for me. I think I would go home with my folks, but a young lady talked to me & asked if I would take her place in Shoshone, so I guess I said I would & I ended up at a home, the woman wasn't too well, their name was Powell, husband was a manager of Wood River Canal Co. So he was gone all day to his office, they had 2 boys who went to school & a little girl around 3 years old. On Sunday meetings, I was to hold service in the IOOF hall, which I did. Played the piano & sang & preached. An older couple rented it that was where the lady who asked me to go to Gooding stayed. Another young couple came too.

The Powell's paid me a little. Don't remember how long I was there. She wanted to go to a Dr. in Kimberly, she didn't know how to drive the car. Which I did, so I took her once a week over the rim to rim bridge. So once my mother wrote and said Helen, my sister, is sick, if I could come home. So finally doctors said that Mrs. Powell had to have surgery so her sister came to stay with the children and her husband took her to Boise. And I went home.

My sister Helen had to have appendix operation. Anyway while I was home my mom had a basket of mending sitting, so we got busy with the stockings, etc. Those days kids that went to school wore long stockings, so heels and knees got holes. So we put patches on.

Later a lady in Albion wanted a housekeeper she had a small daughter at home and she herself was working in a drug store, in fact managed it. Her husband had, but he left her for another woman, so it became hers. She would send the dishtowels they used at the store for me to wash. They were really dirty I think anything that spilled from ink to what, so I would soak them in Clorox and then wash them in her washing machine which was an old kind not much good. On Sundays I went to an small church and played the piano. Some weekends I could go to Am. Falls, caught a ride with the mail man to Burley & from there road a small train called the Galloping Goose, just had an engine and one passenger car.

One weekend Rowe said he would take my back to Albion. My boss didn't mind, so he stayed overnight, sleeping on the couch. We went up to a lake in the Mts. When he said he needed a cook, so proposed if I would marry him. So I told the lady and still stayed a couple more weeks so she could find someone to take my place. So when I was to go back to A.F. Rowe came to get me & my things. Florence, his sister, and Ernie Marsch came too. They had just come back from San Francisco where they and a group of young people had been going to Bible school. Art Leisy, Willard Leisy, Viola my sister, Martin Dormier, some from Firth and Blackfoot. So Ernie and Florence decided to get married too. None of us had very much money, so Florence and I bought material and made our wedding gowns, also us 4 went to the mts and brought branches and things to decorate the church which was on June 27, 1934. Rowe had a car, Ernie didn't, our pastor didn't either, so we all decided to go to Centralia, WA for our honeymoon, taking pastor and wife too. Took tents we could stay in & we all did cooking together.

A big convention was being held there with lots of good speakers. Ernie got license to preach & so did Rowe. Ernie and Florence went to Pac to start a mission there. Rowe & I went to Ray, Idaho for a few Sundays. Rowe was already starting to farm in Aberdeen, next to Leisys, so he had to borrow machines etc. But later he said he didn't think he is a good preacher, would rather be a farmer, so went whole hearted into farming. Asked the man who he rented it from if he had any better farm to rent. The place we were on was rocky etc. So we built a chicken house, ordered some baby chix and raised spring fryers to sell. My folks gave us a cow to milk and we counted pennies to buy food. But I baked bread in a tiny stove. I carried water from a pump outside in a bucket for use in the house to drink, wash hands, etc. Lots of experiences but we finally got the farm which we're on, you saw. When we moved, took what things we had, Rowe got 2 horses and a wagon, tore chicken house down & drove to A.F. to Lake Channel area. So started farming in a bigger way. I was pregnant with Dorothy. Lots of things to say.

Anyway, if we are willing to go with our mate, God will help & many years together, we had 25 – 50 – 60 and just about 65 years. To keep your marriage sweet and going, the husband is head of the house, always be forgiving if you have arguments. Put the Lord in everything. Pray about everything.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Spicy Fall

This morning dawned crisp once again. I was in a fairly good mood once out of the door, as I didn’t have to drive to work today but got to take the express bus downtown and then the light rail the rest of the way to work. As I exited the bus on the 16th Street Mall, the train had yet to arrive, so II decided to treat myself to coffee since I skipped breakfast. Even though I had time to kill, I walked to the nearest Starbucks (there are at least ten different Starbucks stores within a mile of 16th Street downtown).

The moment I walked inside the door I could smell it, a slight spicy fragrance that after three years of slaving for the big green company I had come to passionately love. Pumpkin Spice.

It’s now fall, officially. Because Starbucks brought back my favorite seasonal drink, the Pumpkin Spice Late. Ahh… life is good now.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Back in the Saddle

I'm writing again. Not just my occassional blog post, but I'm really writing again! I feel so energized when I write, my creative juices have been invigorated and I get to express myself fully!

Where in my busy schedule do I have time to write, you may ask? Well, I decided to give up driving to work, and I no longer spend hours watching tv and reading novels. Since we moved into our new Nest, it's much easier for me to commute to work on the bus and lightrail train, which gives me a perfect opportunity to write on the go! Second, we didn't have cable for two weeks (once again due to the move) and I've been able to occupy myself in other ways. In the same way all of my books are packed securely in their boxes, sobbing and begging for me to unpack them and burrow my nose back in their leaves, but they still sit in their boxes, because I am writing! It's amazing when I think about it, but I get so distracted by the world around me that I forget to do the one thing that makes me feel complete. (Don't get me wrong, I am not going to break my tv or burn my books, I am just determined to practice moderation!)

So... what am I writing? I was asked to be a contributer to a home and garden blog, Blissfully Domestic Home. I am so honored to be able to do this, and am excited to learn more about home/garden through my writing. My angle: country cowgirl creating a city home in both indoor/outdoor spaces. (Check out that alliteration!)

I've also started taking a creative nonfiction class at U-College at work. As much as I love taking classes, I am even more ecstatic about taking a workshop writing class again! Invigorating!

Finally, I've dived back into my novel that I'm writing. I still feel too insecure to share any of it here on my blog, but just know that I'm about a third into it, the characters have become friends of mine, and I can't wait to see where they lead me in their adventures! I'd appreciate prayers and wishes of good will as I write... I'll let you know how everything is going.

And the best thing? It's fall. Today was the first day of classes at the university, and today dawned misty and dreary, with a snippy chill in the air. I pictured myself curled up with a good book, wrapped up in a comfy plaid flannel blanket in front of the fire. It was depressing to go to work instead, but it was the perfect weather for the first day of school. It made me happy. :)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Definition of Homemaker?

Homemaking… what does that mean?

As newly minted homeowners, The Chef and I are in a bit of a dizzy. Here we have this marvelous new home, with more space than we can imagine, since we just moved out of a 500 square food one bedroom apartment. However, as we stare at the blank canvas of our new home, we wonder, where do we start? How in the world do I turn this…

into this?

As a very young girl I remember both my grandma Marge and Mom going to biweekly meetings of the local Homemaker Club. I think my grandma was state Homemaker of the year once. While they were card carrying “Homemakers” they also successfully created warm and inviting homes and beautiful and productive gardens. I never pondered the making of a homemaker, just figured something like a gray haired and chubby cheeked homemaker fairy would bop me over the head with her wand the day I was married, and I’d miraculously be a wonderful homemaker as well. I can hear the snickers all the way through the computer… no, that hasn’t happened yet.

This morning I read out of the Message translation of Proverbs 31:
“First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
Rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
Is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
Diligent in homemaking.”
While I am often torn between love and hatred of this paragon of womanly and wifely virtues, I have meditated on this chapter all year, as I desperately try to “train” myself in the skills of homemaking. And hopefully, this country cowgirl will succeed in creating a city home in both indoor/outdoor spaces.

Photo credits: Photo 1 | Photo 2 | Photo 3 | Photo 4


Yesterday at work I received a series of emails from my mother, a housewife living on a cattle ranch in Nebraska.

I was picking beans in the garden and noticed this eggplant peering at me from under the foliage. Look how pretty and purple! What a magnificent vegetable! I just had to share him with you… the problem, sure he is fun to look at and caress but how do I cook him, I’ve never had eggplant before, too exotic for this farm girl. So if you have any ideas let me know, he has some siblings coming so I am excited for different ideas. ~Mom

I was touched, my mom, asking ME advice? And she is the great cook! After a moment of basking in the warm glow of pride, I suddenly realized it wasn’t me she was asking advice of, but my husband, the Chef.

I jotted her a quick email suggesting my favorite veggie dish from the Food Network's infinitely amazing recipe index, Eggplant Parmesan. Her reply was quick in coming.

Thanks for the feedback.
As I was preparing the flour and heating the grease for my pretty little pal, I was over whelmed with a feeling of fear and dread in the kitchen (It wasn’t me, I wasn’t due to get on the bathroom scale for another week) I slowly turned and this is what I saw…

Yes, my mom is the funny one of the family. Before I could think of a wittier response than, “You're a freak!” I received a third email from my ranch bound mom.

Don’t eat me!

I can hear all the voices of my matriarchal ancestors screaming, “Quit playing with your food!” But who's going to tell my mom that?

When are you too old for vegetable fun? When you're a vegetable yourself.


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