A Rant from Strider the Cat  – My Human is Despicable

I am a reasonable cat, but lately I have been feeling frustrated.  She is a horrible person, and there is nothing I can do about it.    I know that in my previous postings I seemed optimistic and even happy, but that was just a front.  My life is bleak.  She is awful.  Since I can no longer determine any pattern to her comings and goings, I am going to start right in describing the terrible things she is doing to me.  Please, save this.  It may be needed as evidence.

Let me start off with the worst. She has put me on a diet.  My food allowance was never overly generous, but in the last month she has seriously cut back. I am a cat, a member of the Felis genus, and by nature a carnivore and fierce hunter.  A great human would provide me with live prey for food. A good human would make sure I had bowls full of freshly butchered meat.  My human feeds me kibbles that taste like dry, meat-flavored pebbles.   Not only is my food substandard, but now it is meted out in overly small amounts.

I am willing to admit that I have put on a bit of weight, but so has she and that is what makes me so angry.  We could have gone on the diet together.   Instead, she stands in the kitchen having a late-night snack while my food bowl remains empty.  I glare at her fiercely but it has no effect. Her willingness to withhold food from me while stuffing herself is despicable, but not the only example of her complete lack of decency.

She has no sense of humor, none what so ever.  Mine is delightfully sly. For just one example, a few years ago she purchased a rather expensive upholstered chair.  Since the day that chair was set down, I have gone out of my way to claw and scratch it whenever she is around.  It drives her nuts!  There is nothing funnier than watching her race towards me when I start in on the chair.  I can run it around or under it and she cannot catch me.  She has purchased any number of products that are supposed to make me stop scratching that chair, and of course none of them worked. If she had even the slightest appreciation of a good joke she would applaud my efforts.  I will not stop until she either gets the joke or that chair is in tatters.  Either way, I win.

Some time ago I wrote about the game we played called “Hallway Escape”, and how much I enjoyed it.   There is another game we occasionally play in which I chase a most exquisitely fascinating red light that moves up and down walls and through every room in the house.  That light compels me as no other thing can.  Just when I think I have caught it, the light dances up a wall or zips past me.  It vanishes without a trace, and then suddenly reappears.  I love that light.

Well, my horrible human found a way to combine my two favorite activities into a single disappointing and infuriating game I am calling “Wretched human”.  It starts when she is clearly about to leave.  I’ll run up, excitedly thinking we are going to play Hallway Escape, and hide near the door.  Just as though we were going to play that fun game, she will find me and toss me away, and I sneak back.  We do that a few times and then the red light appears! It flickers and dances near my paw and while I try to ignore it, I start reaching for it.  The light races off into another room, and I jump away and run after it.  Next thing I know, the light is off, the door has opened and shut, and I am alone in the house.  Tricked, shamed, angry.  With nothing to do but write this plea to all of you out there.  Please, help me.  She is cruel and terrible.  Wait a minute; I hear a key unlocking the door.  Sorry, but I must start clawing the chair so that is the first thing she sees when coming home.  Goodbye for now, I remain as always, Strider the Cat.

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Where did all the poor people go, or my problem with Grace and Frankie and why I still love Roseanne

In the 1970s network TV comedies showcased a variety of different classes. The Jeffersons was about an African American family who had made the journey from lower middle class to upper class. All in the Family portrayed the lifestyle of the white working class. Mary Tyler Moore showed a middle-class world. In each of these shows, the class basis for the characters was portrayed in a realistic manner and became a part of the show. Mary’s apartment was small, and she was careful with money. Archie and Edith didn’t have any new furniture, and they never traveled. What you saw made sense.

Something happened during the 1980s, and from that point to now a realistic depiction of class in sitcoms has disappeared. Modern Family is about three related family groups who all lead an upper middle class existence. Set in Southern California, each of the homes shown would sell for several million dollars. Two Broke Girls purports to show the struggles of two young women in New York City (one of the most expensive places to live), but their clothes, hair styles and living situation belie that.

There was a show, once upon a time, that put class front and center. Roseanne was about a family that started out as working class and ended up as working poor. During the nine-year run of the show (1988 – 1997) the Connor family steadily slid down the economic ladder. Roseanne and Dan Connor both lost jobs as factories closed and opportunities for blue collar work decreased. The impact was felt on their kids: Becky Connor, portrayed as a goal-oriented good student, realized that despite her hard work and solid grades she wouldn’t be able to go to college. The kids were not being driven to sports and lessons because those activities did not fit in the family budget. Roseanne lost a tooth, and because the family was too poor for good health care, had to just deal with it.

I am not writing this to show off my knowledge of TV. This stuff is important. The reality is wealth inequality is getting larger and larger, but you don’t see that on TV. Shows meant to portray people in low paying jobs gloss over the difficulties and indignities. Everyone is gorgeous and healthy looking, but that’s not what it’s like to be working poor. The reality of poverty is felt more strongly by women of all ages. Younger women are more likely than men to be left raising children without economic support from the other parent. Older women end up struggling in retirement due to years of being paid less.

I started thinking about this while watching season three of Grace and Frankie. I have a love-hate relationship with this show. The two women who are the focus of the show are, to my mind, fabulously wealthy. Becoming divorced after 40 years hasn’t made any difference to their income. The clothes worn by both women are expensive. They live in a multimillion-dollar beach house artfully furnished, and not once has there ever been a moment where they have concerns over their financial future. When a bank will not lend them money to start a business, the money is quickly found. I do not have easy access to 85,000 dollars, and I bet few people do.

Lily Tomlin’s Frankie is a child-woman who has never had to undertake adult responsibilities. Frankie’s stubborn dogmatism would be a lot more interesting if she was ever in a situation where she didn’t have wealth and privilege on her side to lessen the impact of her actions. Her outspokenness comes with no risk. She reminds me of the upper class “radicals” I’ve known who were adamant in stating that money was not important. That is an easy statement to make when you have always had enough to pay rent and buy food.

The show purports to cover many of the issues facing older women, but these two get to sit in a gorgeous, always clean kitchen and spend hours discussing their problems. How much better this show would be if things weren’t so easy for them. If their emotional struggles took place in a world where they couldn’t spend long afternoons sitting on the beach because they were working two low paying jobs. I would love to see a show where one of them had have a tooth pulled because they didn’t have the money for dental work, and then had to deal with looking in the mirror and seeing a gap-toothed smile. What about scripts focusing on when to go to the doctor and when not to, with them juggling bills as they try to pay their share of an urgent care visit.

I realize it is not fair to ask a single TV show to make up for a generation of false portrayals of class, but Grace and Frankie purports to deal with issues facing older women. Unfortunately, women over 60 have pretty much disappeared from TV (except as patients or victims), so the stakes are much higher for any show that has them front and center. I could accept them as upper class recent divorcees if there were some reality added in. Maybe they could have a single friend who was struggling on a fixed income. Instead of meeting handsome and interesting men through online dating, what about finding that men their age only want to date 35-year olds.

Despite all this, I do enjoy the show. The chemistry between Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda is great. I realize that I am putting too much pressure on a single show to be all things, and that is not fair. But you know what else is not fair? That as income inequality soars to new levels in this country and the middle class is being eroded, there is not a single TV show that shows the impact of that. That when the number of children living in poverty is increasing, and that when women continue to be paid less, TV continues to show a world where people working minimum wage jobs have all their teeth and no money problems.

She’s Back…

My world fell apart five years ago and I used words to create a life raft. My husband was diagnosed with a terminal disease and died six weeks later. Every day was worse than the day before. Seeing words on the computer screen was the only way I could process what was happening. The day after he died I sat with my morning coffee and wondered what the hell I was going to do. I started this blog.

I used writing to work my way through the obstacle course of grief. Nothing else was as helpful. The online support group I joined was made up of people mourning the end of decades-long relationships. We were married seven years; I knew how to call a plumber and pay bills. I saw a grief counsellor who said you could get what you wanted in life by wishing, and told me a story about his new car. I never went back.

Writing helped. I published my first few tentative posts and was amazed to see responses. Some were from people going through the same tough journey as me. I read their blogs and realized that while this was a solo trip, I was not the only one making it. I kept writing. A lot of my time at work during those first few months was spent writing (I can say that now that I am retired).

Eventually the active grief ended, but it never fully stopped. I was a new person, different from who I had been before all of this happened. I started writing about other things. The blog was renamed to show my expanded focus. I spent the second anniversary of Rick’s death rereading old blog posts from those first months. It was hard to get through; none of the rawness and pain was hidden.

This August will mark the fifth anniversary of Rick’s death. He was five years older than me; on my birthday this year, I will be the same age he reached, and soon after I will be older than he ever was. So much in my life has changed. I have new interests that take up much of my time, and new friends he never knew. I retired last year. Some of the people we both knew and loved died. I wonder where my life would be had he lived.

I stopped writing for a while; a while that lasted over a year. Just as I was feeling ready to emotionally move forward, my brother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He died shortly after, and I fell back into grieving. There was little to say that I had not said earlier, and there was nothing else that seemed worth talking about.

Now, though, I am ready to go back to the discipline of putting thoughts to paper in a coherent and meaningful way (or at least, that is the goal). I hope there is someone out there interested in reading this, but if not, I will still be here, trying to make some sense out of myself and the world.

New Year’s Greetings from The Cat

She had company on Christmas, and one of the visitors mentioned how much she enjoyed reading my updates.  I was touched, so much so that I let her briefly scratch my belly before reaching out with a warning slash.  That kind and intelligent visitor then asked why I had not been posting any updates over the last few months,

I have much on my mind that needs sharing, but it has become difficult to use the computer. She used to be on a schedule that was easy to figure out.  Monday through Friday, she left the house early and was gone all day. There was plenty of time for me to explore, nap, look for food, and organize my thoughts for writing.  Alas, that schedule is no more.  Last summer she started staying home later during the day.  Now she sleeps in late and comes and goes at irregular times.  She might spend an entire day at home, not leaving once; or she might leave in the morning, be home briefly during the afternoon, and then be gone until late night.  It has disrupted my life and made finding time to write updates much more difficult.

Now, do not interpret what I have just written as an excuse; no cat would ever indulge in such self-abasing behavior. Excuses are what a cringing dog would do: “Oh, please don’t be mad because I piddled on the carpet, but it’s because you weren’t there to take me for a walk”.  Disgusting! I am not asking for your approval or forgiveness, simply stating a fact.

Her new schedule has affected every aspect of my life, and mostly for bad.  She is up later in the morning by several hours, which means that my food bowl remains empty.  She has completely disrupted my nap schedule, and I have found myself getting a bit cranky from lack of sleep.  There were some rather delightful things I enjoyed doing when she was not around to stop me, and the opportunities for those activities have become more challenging to find.

Adding to my general frustration is that as my life has become more challenging and stressful, she seems so much more relaxed and, dare I say it, even happy.  Apparently, what she did was to retire.  I thought that word referred to the very wise idea of taking a nap, but now realize its meaning is to sleep late and look happier.

Good for her, but what about me?  I’m still waiting for that better mood to translate into something of value, like giving me more and better food, or not being so upset when I scratch that delightfully scratchy chair.

Damn – I hear her at the door. She was gone for such a short time.  Such is now my lot in life.  I wish all of you a very happy New Year, and my sincere hope that 2017 will be a good year.  For me, personally, my New Year’s wish is that she purchases a huge bag of cat food, leaves it out on the floor, and then takes a long vacation.

My Dad Stopped Driving Yesterday

Dad handed me the keys to the car yesterday.  I remember the first time he did this.  I was 16.  It meant the start of independence for me, and in retrospect it marked the beginning of the end for his time as an active, hands on parent of young children.  Over the next five years that same ritual was repeated twice more, and soon after that all three of us were gone.   That time, handing the keys to me was a sign of growth. It was celebrated. 

I’ve been taking them grocery shopping every week for the last few years.  It started as an easy way to spend some time together.  I notice how much slower they are; a 20 minute trip for me takes over an hour with them. I watch as mom, so much shorter than she was a few years ago, talks with the butcher about what cut of meat she wants.  He has to lean forward to hear her.  My dad spends an eternity picking out fruit, carefully checking pineapples and melons to determine which one is at the perfect stage of ripeness. 

The vibrant, strong people who raised me are mostly gone. I’m glad he and mom are still here, and I’m grateful they are mentally sound and able to continue being active participants in their own lives.  He and mom are in their late 80s.  She stopped driving a few years ago; he hung on, unwilling to give up, but hardly ever using the car.  It was his decision, made a few months ago.   

Steps taken during childhood and adulthood are celebrated because they mark an expansion of opportunities and expectations.  Each of those steps: getting a driver’s license, moving out, a first job, represent the start of a new phase of life.  Living long enough to become elderly is an accomplishment, but often one that brings a contraction of opportunities.  The steps my parents now take are not “firsts”, they are “lasts”.  The last trip they will ever take.  The last car they buy.  The last home they will live in.

Dad handed me the keys to the car yesterday.  Not for the first time, but for the last time.

Where’s My Reality Show?

How often have you found yourself stranded on a desert island with no food, 15 sociopaths, and a full television crew?  Or what about that one time you lived for 3 months in a gorgeous penthouse apartment shared with 10 other people, all of whom were delusional, suicidal, homicidal or all three?

I love reality shows, but I want one that’s more, well, reality-based.  Lots of people work in offices, and I’m one of them.  The closest thing to a reality show we’ve had was The Office. Neither the British nor American versions made anything up; they just took what was actually there and exaggerated a bit.  There are millions and millions of us who spend the majority of our week days working in an office environment, and I think we deserve a reality show that depicts our life.  So I’ve created one.  Here’s my pitch for a new, guaranteed to be a success show.  If you are an executive producer, please contact me and we can discuss terms.

Project Survivor

Elevator pitch: The Office meets Survivor.  A competitive quasi-reality show in which contestants are forced to work their way through office politics and shenanigans until one person emerges successfully as the winner. 

Description:  Teams compete weekly to achieve meaningless goals.  The losers nominate 2 people each to go to Human Resources (HR), where one or more people are selected for right-sizing.

The season begins with 3 teams of 8 people each.  Teams include these types of members:

  • Aging Boomers who complain about everyone younger except when they need help accessing emails
  • Someone who never seems to do anything but still gets the credit for other people’s work 
  • A few people who gossip and trash talk everything and everyone
  • At least one person whose main skill is derailing every effort at organization and competence
  • A few Millenialls with loads of enthusiasm and energy coupled with a complete lack of people skills and knowledge
  • Several people with mad skills in one area only, and no interest in doing anything else
  • A sociopath who wants to take over every everything and doesn’t care who gets destroyed
  • A nurturer who spends all their time planning parties and pot lucks

Each week consists of 2 challenges. The first is at the individual level, with scores ranked by team.  The winning team will receive a reward or be given an advantage in the final team-based challenge. 

Individual challenges are based on office skills and situations.  For example, a memo-writing challenge would have each person handed a new, 2-page policy with 90 minutes to understand it and write a memo explaining it to staff.  Judging is done by a panel of office experts looking to see who can write in the most boring and unreadable style, and for the ability to white-wash negative information.  Other individual challenges could focus on stealing office supplies, staying awake during HR training, or creative back-stabbing.

The main challenge each week pits the teams against each other as they try and accomplish a strategic initiative.  Teams have 2 days to complete each challenge, and can divide up that time between planning and execution in any way they want.  There are some defined milestone deliverables where points can be won or lost, but the majority of points are earned at the end when the project is complete. 

It is exciting to watch as one team may spend a day and half arguing over project scope and roles, and then have only a few hours to actually do what was requested.  Another team may jump right into executing the project, and discover at the very end that they’ve successfully completed the wrong work.

What makes Project Survivor stand out is that the teams change every week.  After HR has decided on the right-sizing, remaining participants are reshuffled with a weekly reorganization into new teams based on no logic or rationale discernible by anyone outside of HR.  This upending makes the game new every week, and will keep viewers on the edge of their ergonomically designed office chairs. 

The core audience is expected to be the millions of people that work every day in an office environment.  A strong secondary audience will consist of telecommuters watching streamed versions of the show from their home offices while they are pretend to work. This show is bound to be a hit.   Please, contact me as soon as possible to discuss terms.  I desperately want out of office work, and am hoping this is my ticket out.

Why the GOP is Going Nuts

The two major parties change focus every 40 years or so, but this election year it seems the Republicans may end up self-destructing.  This may appear to be coming out of nowhere, but the current campaign season and the rise of Donald Trump can be tracked back to calculated decisions made decades ago.  To get a better picture of what’s going on now in 2016,  I’ll start back all the way back in the 1880s when Reconstruction ended. From that period through to about 1968, the US could be considered as having had a 3-party system with the Republicans, southern Democrats and northern Democrats existing as distinctly different entities.

The Republican Party started in the late 1850s as an abolitionist party with a strong Northern base among Yankee-born believers in the mid-19th century’s triumvirate of progressive issues: abolishing slavery, establishing prohibition, and providing the vote for women.  These causes don’t seem intrinsically linked to us, but they were to people in the 19th century.  Inherent in their viewpoint was the idea that small towns and farms were the most valid part of the America, and that the common man (interpreted as middle class people with a solid WASP lineage) were the best Americans. The less palatable side of these beliefs were a desire to preserve that America from the vast number of immigrants coming from countries and cultures that were believed to be incapable of assimilation (mostly Irish and Italian during the 1880s).   During Reconstruction southern blacks were granted the right to vote, and they voted solidly Republican.

Democrats were lukewarm on the Civil War, and the Democratic Party stood in opposition of attempts to provide freed slaves with equal rights during Reconstruction.  When federal troops were removed from the South in 1877, the GOP went with them.  The South would be Democratic from that point forward through to the 1950s.  The Southern Democratic Party was the party of segregation and State’s rights.  Southern Democratic legislators prevented the passage of federal anti-lynching laws and did everything in their power to ensure that blacks remained in as abject a position as possible. 

That was in the South.  In the North, the Democratic Party had a very different face.  Immigrants streamed into the US and mostly settled in Northern cities.  Republicans were, by and large, appalled at what they considered a mass influx of inferior races, religions and cultures.  The Democratic Party rolled out the welcome mat and created the concept of machine politics.  Every northern city had a well-established system of neighborhood leaders and bosses who handed out jobs, helped people with problems, and ensured that all the voters made it to the polls.   

The Progressive movement started in the 1890s with a reboot of many of the same issues that started the Republican party.  Progressives wanted votes for women, often supported prohibition, and were vehemently opposed to the machine politics that had taken over most Northern cities.  Entwined in these goals were some nativist concerns.  One of the arguments in favor of women’s suffrage was that native-born American  women’s votes (in reality, they meant white Protestant) could counteract the votes of non-native immigrant men.  A part of the desire to make municipal governments corruption free was to break the hold of the mostly Democratic urban machines that ran cities. 

Progressives had strong roots in the Republican Party, even though they would participate in third party movements  (TR with the Bull Moose Party, Bob La Follette with the Socialists).  This continued through the 1920s up until Teddy’s cousin FDR was elected President in 1932. For the first time, it was a Democrat who was looking to enact major progressive reforms, and his Republican opponents that were in opposition.  In addition, FDR made some attempts to challenge the racist base of the party in the South.  Still, the voting blocs remained mostly the same.  Northern white ethnics and Southern whites voted Democratic; WASPs voted Republican.  Former progressives were mostly voting Republican, but would vote for FDR in the presidential election. 

The first cracks appeared in 1948 when the Democratic Party formally supported integration and Truman integrated the armed forces.  This was viewed as apostate by the Southern Democrats, and many of them formally split off to form a new, entirely race-based party called the Dixiecrats. While not long-lived, the result was that some elected members of the US House and Senate switched their party affiliation from Democrat to Republican.  The age where the Democratic Party was the only group for Southern whites was starting to end.  Over the next 20 years Southern white support for the Democratic Party steadily eroded.  It was Lyndon Johnson, a white Southerner and a Democrat, who worked hard to get the voting rights act of 1965 passed.  For the first time since 1877 Southern blacks were able to vote in large numbers, and they voted as Democrats.

Party alliances in the North underwent an equally major transition.  The flood of European immigration stopped after WWI, and the supposedly unassimilable hordes assimilated.  The Democrats stayed with them, becoming the party that supported unions and represented the working man and woman. Then, during the 1960s, civil rights protests in Northern cities targeted jobs and housing at the same time the urban manufacturing age was ending.  Blue collar workers – the children and grandchildren of immigrants – were in labor unions that were staunchly Democratic, and often just as staunchly against admitting blacks.  Factories started shutting down and the solidly working class blue-collar Democrats began feeling left out of their party’s concerns.     

In a calculated bid to appeal to Northern white blue collar voters and Southern whites, the GOP began to play up racial issues. The movement was small and mostly covert in the 1960s, but slowly become more openly race-based.  Nixon appealed to the “Silent Majority”; those white working class folks, often union members, who felt their world was crumbling.  Ronald Reagan talked about “welfare queens” driving Cadillac cars and George HW Bush made a point of mentioning a criminal with the decidedly black sounding name of “Willy Horton”.  By the 1990s, there was no doubt that the GOP, once the party of abolition, was solidly and assuredly the party where racists could feel most at home.    

Along with the racists, the GOP opened their doors to other groups.  Starting in the 1990s, evangelicals were welcomed with open arms.  Anti-federalists advocates were invited in.  By the early 2000s the GOP has become a case study for cognitive dissonance, with about the only unifying theme being a deep and pervasive anger at anyone perceived as being different. Party leaders have spent the last few years in an increasingly more difficult dance to keep control over the crazies they invited in.  This year, they finally lost control.  But make no mistake about it; they laid the framework and created the situation they now find themselves in. 

Answers from the Cat

Were my facial muscles capable of doing so, I would have laughed out loud while reading your letter. Clearly you have forgotten the most basic premise of our relationship, which is that I issue demands, not you. You want a companion willing to spend their time answering your yammering questions? Get a dog. Though, of course, most of them are not bright enough to craft readable answers, and those that could are such despicable people-pleasers all they would do is write simpering, sniveling responses.

I am the cat, the true mistress of this household, and it is not my job to provide you with comforting answers to your boring questions. However, I am a generous and kindly soul, and therefore will answer one. Like all cats, I see little distinction between food and friend. So long as my bowl remains full and you show signs of life, you are my friend. That does not mean I cannot occasionally daydream about a time when those conditions cease.

There. I have answered one of your questions. The rest are too tedious. It is not my job to salve your ego or to explain how best to spend your money.  I am off to take a nap.  Please be sure to have the food bowl filled by the time I wake up.

Questions for My Cat

Let me start out by stating how I admire you, both as an individual and as a member of your species.  I’m especially impressed at how felines made a somewhat hesitant deal with humans for food and shelter in return for, well, not much on your side.  Sure, you’ll live with me, take food, show some level of affection, but I recognize it’s a choice, and one you make on a daily basis.

Still, there are some things I just don’t get.

  • Why do you wait all day to use the litter box? You spend the entire day alone in the house, but wait until I get home before you decide to let loose with something that smells so bad I’m considering purchasing a hazmat suit.
  • What are you looking at?  Periodically you will stare at nothing for a long time, and with a look of total concentration.  It weirds me out.  
  • How come you pretend to love your toys when I have company, but won’t go near them otherwise?  You look like those cats in the commercials; when it’s just us they gather dust.
  • And, in general, what’s with the pickiness regarding play things?  I buy a toy guaranteed to amuse you.  You play with the box and won’t touch the toy.  
  • Why are toes so fascinating?  No explanation needed on this one, just some rationale for why you feel that my feet, and especially toes, exist solely for your amusement.
  • Do you deliberately wait to scratch my favorite chair in front of me?  You never touched any of the furniture, only using scratching posts.  Because of that, I spent a lot of money on a custom-made chair that is now covered with a throw.
  • Am I food or friend?  You snuggle up next to me and purr.  An hour later I catch sight of you perched on top of the kitchen cabinets, glaring down at me like I’m a gazelle and you’re the tiger.   
  • And, finally, the biggest question of all: do you like me?  Sometimes you seem to adore me, but other times you shoot me that look of utter disdain and scorn only a cat can manage.  It really messes with my confidence. 

Please respond at your earliest convenience.  Don’t pretend you can’t read or write; I’ve seen your earlier posts. 

Learning to Live in the Now

Remember the old story about the grasshopper and the ant? The ant spends the pleasant days of summer working hard building a nest and filling it with food, while the grasshopper enjoys the lovely weather and plays.  The two encounter each other one warm day and the grasshopper asks the ant to come and join the party; the ant declines.  A few months later, snow covering the ground and a cold wind blowing, the hungry, freezing grasshopper shows up at the ant’s door and begs to be let in.  The ant, sitting in front of a roaring fire with a larder full of food, turns the grasshopper away with a stern lecture about the value of work before play. The ant was clearly a total douche.

I’ve always identified with the ant (although I would share with my grasshopper friend.)  Years ago I made the decision to change careers to something that would give me more financial security, but less day to day satisfaction.  I decided my compromises would be made at work, not at home. To me, money means choices, and the more choices I have the better I feel.

My plan worked well; while I never loved my job, I always liked it, and more to the point, I was able to have that good life.  However, over the last few years my enjoyment of work has steadily declined to the point where I really and truly don’t want to be here anymore.  I’m at the age where looking for a new job is limited; few places are interested in hiring someone over 60.  That leaves retiring, which brings me right back to that darn ant.  What the story got wrong is that the ant would never spend winter relaxing by the fire with a good book.  A real ant type would be nervously pacing back and forth, thinking how safe is the food supply from being ruined by pests, and that there probably isn’t enough to last the whole winter anyway, and getting ready to go out and forage some more as soon as the storm died down. 

That’s the reality of being an ant: worrying more about what might happen instead of enjoying what is happening.  The battle wages within me, but I’ve come to a decision.  

I think…