Elder Music: Australian Pop 2
REFLECTIONS: Uncle Sam

Birthday Questions Answered and a Follow Up

category_bug_journal2.gif Thank you again for the outpouring of birthday greetings last week. As Naomi Dagen Bloom put it in a comment, it was a wonderful celebration in “a very, very large backyard in cyberspace.” You made my day, more than you know.

A number of people asked questions in the comments and via email. I'm not comfortable expounding on my personal life unless it relates in some way to getting old. It's not that there are secrets; it just makes me feel overly egocentric not to mention that the answers are ordinary and boring. But it also seems impolite not to answer and since several questions were similar, this saves writing them several times in email.

doctafill asked about why I can't move back to New York City, to a less expensive part. For me, Manhattan – and especially Greenwich Village - IS New York. Through the 40 years I lived there, I always said I wouldn't like New York if I didn't live downtown. And that remains so. Having the rest of the city a subway or taxi ride away was part of the attraction, but I always wanted to go home to my little Village where I know the history of every nook and cranny.

Kenju asked how I know I would like Portland, Oregon better than Portland, Maine. Because in three years, I've never become comfortable in Maine – it's never felt like I belong - and over decades of visiting Oregon, it always feels like going home, which it literally is; I grew up there until I was 14. I hadn't realized just how small Portland, Maine is - for a city girl like me. And, my brother lives in Oregon. We've lived a continent apart for decades and I'd like to know him better before I die.

Possumlady asked how I chose Portland, Maine when I left New York. I'm pretty sure I've explained before, but...

When it became evident that to continue to eat, I'd need to sell my apartment in New York, no destination came to mind even though I've spent time in every state except five. So I made a chart of preferences:

I hate hot weather, humid and dry, and I like four seasons. So that eliminated the entire southern half of the U.S.

I like an ocean nearby. So that eliminated the entire middle of the northern half of the U.S.

I'm a city, not a rural person, so that left Seattle, Portland, Boston and Portland. I've worked in Boston over the years several times. I'm sure it has its charms, but they are not evident to me. I've also visited Seattle frequently and it seems to have all the disadvantages of a big city with few of the advantages.

That left the two Portlands. Although Oregon is my birthplace and my brother lives there, about 90 percent of my friends are in New York City. So the final decision was that there was a better chance of New York friends visiting me in Maine that Oregon.

That's true, but it doesn't make up for the pull toward Oregon I feel more strongly every day.

SteveG, who intends to move to Portland, Maine, also asked why I want to leave Maine and suggested that it might be related to something I never discuss on this blog: romantic companionships.

First, I want to be clear that there is nothing wrong with Maine. It's a lovely place (if you don't mind shoveling a lot of snow). But I feel better in Portland, Oregon in many kinds of ways, among them - Portland, Oregon is a big city – a million people – and I just like the hubbub of big cities more than I recognized when I chose this Portland of about 64,000 people.

As to romantic companionship – it bears not at all on my desire to leave Maine and Steve, you're right: I don't discuss it. Should I marry again (about as likely as the next pig you see taking wing), I'll let you know.

Do I miss New York? You betcha. Every day. But after a short period of wailing and weeping when thwarted, I have always been good at accepting what is. (It's one of the things I like best about myself and it saves a lot of misery.) So if it comes to pass that moving to Portland, Oregon is impossible, I'll make peace with that too.

Did I leave out any questions?

FOLLOW-UP TO FRIDAY'S Elders and Fair Hiring Practices POST

Mike Nichols of Anxiety, Panic & Health alerted me to a story in Sunday's New York Times which leads with a report about a 57-year-old man applying for a job with a much younger hiring manager. He noticed her

"...falter upon spotting him in the lobby.
"'Her face actually dropped,' said Mr. Sims, who was dressed in a conservative business suit, befitting his 25-year career in human resources at I.B.M.

"Later, in her office, after several perfunctory questions, the woman told Mr. Sims she did not believe the job would be 'suitable' for him. And, barely 10 minutes later, she stood to signal the interview was over.

"'I knew very much then it was an age situation,' said Mr. Sims."

For me, Mr. Sims' story is personally chilling. I know that "falter" and that brush-off from 20-something interviewers all too well; I've been through it more than once or twice. It can never be proven in a court of law, but you know what it is when it happens, and it has everything to do with why I now live in Portland, Maine instead of still working and living in New York City.

According to the story, the unemployment rate for workers 45 and older is the highest it has been since 1948, when tracking by age began and it takes older workers weeks longer than younger ones to find a job - if they ever do. To repeat myself from Friday, when is this going to end. Read the rest of the story here. And there are several opinion pieces on hiring older workers - or not - here.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dani Ferguson tells a childhood story, The Violin Song.]

Comments

I am not sure why I can relate to your quandary, if that is even a fair assessment, but I feel I can to a degree. I mean what’s not to miss about New York City from a long time resident such as yourself?

Yet, perhaps like you before you chose to leave New York, I also harbor this longing for peace and quiet and am quite envious of your current surroundings.

But yet again, I have always wanted to live in either Washington state or Oregon. That desire driven by the beauty of the area but more so with regard to the weather in certain areas. Especially the rain.

But more recently my desire to live in Oregon is influenced greatly by the fact that Oregon has a “Death with Dignity” law and is often laced in my personal conversations surrounding an unknown future of health issues as I age. Perhaps not something you might read in a tourist’s brochure but something that has appeal these days.

Thanks for answering, Ronni. I didn't know you were from Oregon (or didn't remember.)

I think you will like Portland, Oregon, as it is today if you should move back there. It is bustling and so much going on. Also excellent city transportation which I consider a big plus. The main thing though would be close to your brother. To me that reason would be enough. It's the closest familial relationship any of us have as you shared those growing up experiences. Now it'd be neat to share the getting elderly ones. I hope it works for you. I have always thought if I had to live in a city, Portland would be one I'd love

I just read the NY Times articles and know hiring of seniors vs juniors will be a long, hard battle that will probably require solid legislation. It's a musical chairs dance now. Who should get the job? Whoever has the best qualifications- that's who. I applied online to a part-time job yesterday- a job I could easily do. This time, I didn't say anything about being retired. Just stuck to what's needed for the job. I said I'd bring my cv if they like what they read in my email. Lets see if I get a reply.

I too remember that look on the faces of young HR people and on the faces of the WorkSource people here in Washington. In my late 50's the software company I worked for closed. In four months only the three over 40 employees were still out of a job. In spite of solid experience and a degree it took me 8 months to get a good job and that job was the result of a referral by one of my younger co-workers to her new employer. I will be looking for a job again in June and in the meantime I am working out three days a week, not so much to look good, but to be in a better condition for a tough slog.

This may not be true for you, Ronni, but as I aged climbing stairs became increasingly difficult. Unfortunately, it does not get better. That, plus shoveling snow, should factor in your decision of moving away from Maine and out of your upstairs home.

I hope you are able to move to the West Coast and near your brother.

Thanks so much for answering my question, even if you mentioned it before. I love reading the process that others go through on finding the right home location.

I often semi-joke to others that I have reverse SAD. While I love the spring it always fills me with dread knowing that the 95 degree with 95 percent humidity days are just around the corner here in the DC area. In the 27 years I have been here I can tell the heat remains longer and longer. When once you could look forward to somewhat cooler days by mid-September, it is now mid-October before I feel I can breathe again.

I took an online test a number of years ago (actually a very detailed survey) to find the 10 best places in the country for you to live based on your likes/dislikes. Almost all of my places were in the Pacific Northwest!

Unfortunately, we all are too aware of the harsh discriminatory practices older persons face when seeking employment. Especially in this time of economic upheaval, the federal government should encourage employers to hire 'over the hill' workers so that they can maintain a lively independence for themselves.

As to the response ob your birthday -- you are loved by us!

As to Oregon -- hone is where your heart is. I know where my home is and it isn't where I am so I do understand. That said, I've heard enough good things about Portland, OR to undestand your desire to live there and I hope you can make the move soon.

It's about a sense of place. I hope you work it out and move to Oregon for many reasons.

Speaking as the brother in Portland, Oregon--that other Portland-- I wish she'd come home too.

how did i miss that you are planning to move to Portland, OR?? hope you like it a lot. LRH will be there. sounds like a happening place!! bon voyage

I love living in Seattle AND I love visiting Portland! The biggest draw in Portland - great neighborhoods and the best public transportation. We head to Portland several weekends a year..by train.(And of course, the train goes both ways so you could visit Seattle from time to time as well!) We northwesterners rarely shovel snow..but this winter was a doozy - so there are never guarantees. I predict you will be in our Portland on your next birthday!

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