Tag Archives: life

Ch. 20-Dark and Stormy Times

Here I was unemployed, trying to learn a new technology, my unemployment checks were running out and I was trying to work odd jobs as a technical writer here and there. I wrote a couple of safety manuals for a construction firm, I wrote some signs for stores and printed them, I wrote brochures for law firms. I wrote whenever I could. I searched the want ads day and night.

Finally, someone online asked who was making all these chat rooms that were popping up.  You see, AOL had chatrooms that people could go to and visit with friends, but you could also go to other websites and visit via AOL.  I decided to do a little investing and started netdancer.com.  My own domain,  this was only two years after the world-wide web became the internet I really didn’t have the money to spare, but I saw the future and wanted to claim it. I started creating themed chat rooms on netdancer.com.  There were fantasy chat rooms with castles and dragons, there were Star Trek themed chat rooms, there were Western cowboy themed chat rooms.  But unlike the AOL chat rooms, mine had music.  You could go to my chat rooms and select any songs that you wanted to hear to play while you were chatting with your friends.  My chat rooms became very popular and after a while, some of my patrons started asking who created them and if the creator would be available to help them create a website for their business.  Ta-da! I was in business.  Still a starving artist, but in business.  I had never done graphics before, my mother had been the artist in the family, I never considered myself an artist, but I learned.

It was funny, the more I tried, the more support I got online.  I started creating things in “Paint” and Excel and got the notice of an artist, who then encouraged me to start using PhotoShop.  In fact, he started mentoring me in PhotoShop and sent me a copy of the software in the mail.  I was astonished.  I was building a friendship with strangers online that I had never even dreamed of doing in real life.  Later, another artist saw my work and sent me Illustrator and began mentoring me in that software.  My passion for this work was burning and I continued to work frantically to learn everything I could, but I was running out of money.

Then I get a phone call, it was from my father’s best friend. They told me to come home, my father was dying. He hadn’t spoken to me in years.  I drove home and found my father in the hospital. He’d never been ill a day in his life.  He was a teacher and never missed a day and now he was dying?  My father, a tall, handsome man who looked like Clark Gable, was lying in a hospital bed looking weak and vulnerable.  But he didn’t want me in his room.  So I waited in the waiting room. I talked to the doctors and his friends.  They say he collapsed the other day at home and they rushed him to the hospital to find out that he had liver cancer and that he had four months to live.  The doctors tell me all the details.  I waited in the waiting room to see my father and he didn’t want to see me, I waited in the waiting room for 24 hours a day for 3 days. Finally, at the end of the third day, my father’s best friend’s son came to the hospital at midnight and tells me that I need a break.  He takes me out for a drink and a drive.  We talked a long time about the situation.  He brings me back to the hospital and then my father notices me. He not only notices me, he screams at me “Why did you leave me? Why weren’t you here?” I try to explain to him that I was there for days and he didn’t want to see me.  His friend’s son explained that he took me out for a break, that I’d been there non-stop. My father was furious.  There was no pleasing him.  He wasn’t dying today.  I had to leave. I went home.

The next four months were painful, I never heard from my father, I kept in touch with his friends, they were friends of the family and they kept me abreast of the situation.  My father had written me out of the will, sold the house to them, given everything that he didn’t sell to my brother, including my mother’s diamond rings. When I got the news from his friends that dad was in his last days, I did go back home.  He had sold the home to his best friends under the provision that he could die at home.

He had hired a hospice nurse to take care of him.  I remember that day clearly.  He had chosen my bedroom, not his marriage bedroom to die in.  I thought that was odd at the time.  I still wonder about it now.  I walked back into my old room and found him there, a shell of his former self.  A small little man, not the 6’4″, virile, intimidating man that he had been. The nurse said he couldn’t speak, that he didn’t have long. There was no one else in the room except her, me and Dad.  Everyone else, including my brother and his wife, were all in the living room, no one came to check in.  Why not?  The nurse and I were the only ones there when Dad took his last breath. He kept staring at me the whole time.  I just held his hand and sat with him, silent.

He had already made all the funeral arrangements, so there was nothing for us to do. His friends said that he did get religion a few days before he died and that he did leave me a little something.  A few stocks, they were California utilities, that weren’t too profitable then, but they did help me get through my unemployment.

I admit I felt guilty when I got home.  I felt guilty for not being sad about his death. I felt guilty for being relieved.  I felt guilty for feeling like a burden was off my chest. I saw a psychiatrist about it and then realized that it really wasn’t all that abnormal to feel that way.  I did have to forgive him, though, not for any other reason except for myself. I figured he didn’t know better, he didn’t know how to handle things any better. I looked and sounded like my mother. It upset him, I was independent, he liked control.  He couldn’t control me.  I am my own person. I will always be my own person. I don’t submit anymore. I have nothing to be sorry about anymore, and he was who he was and it’s over.

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Ch. 19 The Hiatus

Leaving the second husband was probably the easiest decision I’ve ever made and the best. I had gotten the job, finally, in the laboratory as a technician to do research and development on air bag initiator propellant.  It paid decently, but the house that I rented to leave the husband was way too expensive, but I wanted to keep the girls in the school that they were attending. I didn’t want to uproot them again. So I managed to stay as long as I could. I finally found a small condo that I could buy much closer to work and invested my money in that. My daughters got special permission to finish out school in the district they were in and I finally got stable.

Work was difficult at times, I wasn’t one of the most liked employees, I was the only woman doing this kind of work.  The men gave me a hard time. If I complained about any sexual harassment, they counter complained.  I was given more responsibilities without pay or promotion.  But I did finally learn about computers during this time. I had been a little intimidated by them previously, however, it was now that my company decided that I did not need an oscilloscope to gather data from my high-pressure testing and instead bought a computer and told me to make it work like an oscilloscope. I had no clue what do to do.  I had my HAM radio electronics to fall back on, a good education that had taught me to reason things out, and good research skills. I figured it out- alone. I made it work! My test equipment impressed the managers and bosses.  The results were phenomenal.  I had actually created a black box that translated the high-pressure results from systems that were not digital to a digital computerized system.  The results of the tests then started producing better and more efficient igniter propellant for the company.  But my pay was not increased nor was I was acknowledged for any achievements, in fact, after a chemist that had left the company to go work for a competitor wanted to come back, I was told that my position was being replaced by him. He had sold company secrets but was forgiven and rehired.  I was offered a position with the company as a machine operator with a pay cut or take a layoff.

I took the layoff. I’m sorry, I felt it was an insult and degrading to my profession and gender. I tried to sue, but the unemployment office said I had no case. So here I was once again unemployed, a single mother, frustrated and with no family to support me emotionally.  This time, at least my children weren’t babies. They were teenagers.  One just graduated high school and the other was going to graduate in a couple of years.  The teenage years. Oh, MY Gawd!

It’s a good thing I took a hiatus from men after the second husband, all my energies and stamina were needed for this time in my life.

Because I had conquered my fear of the computer during the oscilloscope incident, I now immersed myself in this new technology. I literally had this vision of “knowing” where this Internet “fad” was heading.  I stayed up all hours of the night teaching myself HTML and web design. I often forgot to eat. I did make one friend working at the igniter plant and she did call me to ask if I’d eaten that day.  If it weren’t for her I probably would have missed a lot more meals.  As it was it did get to the point where I was making myself more ill each day, my body was starting to feel the effects of the stress of unemployment and teenage angst

Sending my eldest daughter off to college also started my into that depression of the empty nest syndrome and that didn’t help much.  The child support was now cut in half because she had reached 18 and was “legal-age”.  The ex now gave her the other half to help out with college.  Later she came to me and said, “how did you manage, this doesn’t even pay for books, Mom?”  Thank goodness, my daughter got scholarships and student loans, there was no way, I could afford to help pay for their education and their father didn’t contribute either, except for that “child-support”.  I felt terribly insufficient and lacking as a mother, but there just wasn’t anything else I could do. I was doing the best I could do, I had always done the best I could do for the girls. Every home I moved to was better and every situation had turned out better.  I was just hoping this one would turn out the same way.

 

Ch.17 – Growth and Loss

I loved my job with aerospace and strategic defense.  It was perfect for me, I actually got to use my chemistry education and felt that I was making a difference in the world. I found out that the company had originally planned to hire a man for the job, but he had taken a better position somewhere else and to meet their government quota for women hires I was next on the list.  I was told this at my ninety-day review when my boss also told me he was pleasingly surprised at my performance and the skill that I performed my work.

I found my niche, I found where I belonged and knew I was good at what I did.  I only got better at the job as time went by.  All in all, I helped launch about 24 space missions and the Magellan explorer and did research and development of numerous other programs. I had my secret and top secret clearance when needed. I loved this job.

I was thrilled.  We did have our heart breaks when missions failed and my company was blamed for the o-rings. But we did warn NASA not to launch. We watched the launch from the lab that day. I was supposed to visit my daughter’s school and tell them what I did for a living.  That didn’t happen.

I wish I could say my love life during this time had improved. I did have my suitors and boyfriends.  I think, however, that maybe I was supposed to come into other’s lives, not for myself, but to help them through the difficult times and I was there to guide them. I had been through the same experience or similar and was there to advise. It just got confused with romance.  There was the one relationship with one gentleman that was going through a difficult time with his ex-wife and the custody trial and visitation problems regarding his young son. His young son was being physical, sexually and emotionally abused by the ex-wife and her boyfriend. Being left alone in the middle of the street late at night, coming back to his father with cigarette burns on his hands and legs.  The man didn’t know what to do.  Finally, he got full custody, he had to forcibly take it.  We had to take the child to a psychologist for counseling to overcome some of the other abuses.  But all this drama also took its toll on the father and his temper became shorter and shorter. I had to end the relationship.  It just wasn’t good for me or my girls to be exposed to this sort of environment.

Later, I did actually fall in love with someone. He was much younger. But he had his share of problems too. When I met him, he was clean—a recovering alcoholic and substance abuser.  He was a hard worker and he loved me too. I had never felt that way about anyone, except maybe for Teddy Bear, who still managed to show up every now and then and have coffee with me.  But this man, I was ready to take the plunge for, my children were now teenagers.  I had never lived with anyone before. I loved this man. I felt the children were old enough to understand that I needed someone now, after all, their father had someone. I had that right too. He moved in. We got engaged. We only had one person who was not happy about our relationship, his brother.  He thought I was too old, I was 39.

My love told me every day how much he loved me, he worked with me at the same company. I saw him all day, every day, I knew he was staying clean. He told me that if her ever “fell off the wagon, he loved me too much to put me through the hell that it would entail and that he would leave and I would never see him again”.  One day he got laid off from work, his brother was getting married and ask him to be his best man.  To be the best man, he spent a lot of time with his brother.  He planned his brother’s bachelor party. He fell off the wagon and I never saw him again after the wedding.