GAY AND GRAY: Pat's Story

Tiptoeing into a New Life

category_bug_journal2.gif No matter how well you plan, how much you organize and how many lists you make, something always goes wrong. I had expected that my stuff would be here in Lake Oswego by today, but it won't arrive until Monday. Meanwhile, Ollie and I are bunking with my brother, his wife, two cats and a dog.

The flight from Maine on Tuesday was long, but uneventful. Ollie the cat was zonked out until an hour before we arrived at PDX. It's three days later and he is still not out from under the bed covers and he scoots away when I try to pet him – standard operating procedure for cats when they are pissed off at their humans.

But look at it from his point of view: some strange people removed every bit of furniture from his home of four years. Then we moved into a small hotel room for five days. Just when he was getting accustomed to that, I shoved a pill down his throat and he was stuck in his carrier for 12 hours with a roaring noise around him the whole time. Then he woke up in yet another new room with smells of other animals.

In those circumstances, I'd be pissed off too. But how come, in some circumstances, cats can be uncanny in appearing to understand English and in others, when you try to explain something, they know only feline. It's probably deliberate on their part.

Lake Oswego is lovely. I've rented a car and have learned my way around the main part of town while taking care of some essential errands. We had dinner a couple of nights ago in a sensationally good sushi place in Northwest Portland.

The apartment is – well, empty. Today Comcast will install the cable and broadband modem. I was running out of clean clothes so I tried the washer and dryer yesterday. They work fine. I investigated the local Safeway, a much more lavish supermarket than I was accustomed to in Maine. My brother tells me there are even better ones to choose from nearby.

In protest against the big banks, I opened a checking account in a local bank. It's an odd and elegant little place on the second floor of a building on the main street of Lake Oswego. No tellers in the usual sense, just people scattered at pretty wooden desks where you sit to transact even such simple tasks as a deposit. Quite civilized.

A couple of days ago, my brother published a Time Goes By story in Oregon's Jewish Review, of which he is editor. You may have read it here, but if not, you can find it at his paper's website.

With the delay of the delivery of my household goods, this is a quiet down time. I'm extraordinarily tired, but also eager to get on with my new life next week.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ernest Leichter: Italy – Where Have You Gone?


Welcome back to the Northwest!

I have to say that on the evening of the 18th, I kept thinking of you and Ollie. Looking at the clock wondering when you were landing. I'm so glad you both arrived safely. I can't imagine how exhausted you must be.

Maybe I'm projecting my own cat experiences, but I honestly think Ollie is stressed beyond belief, not really pissed. It's not just his home you yanked him out of, it's his whole world. I know it's not you, but I do feel some people think it's easier to think of their cat as being mad or pissed off, as opposed to being scared out of their minds. Just talking to him in your normal every day tone will do wonders. He probably will not calm down in the short amount of time you are at your brothers, especially with other people and animal smells around.

This too shall pass and you'll be in your new home in no time! Good luck with Comcast!!

Thanks again, Ronni. This whole saga of yours is giving me hope that there's life after ... well, after now, which is a sort of bleak patch for me.

I admire your ability to confront facts and respond to the situation you're faced with, instead of bitching about the situation. You have no idea how much good you're doing me.

Welcome to Orygun!!

YAY!!! [does little dance]

I would be camped out in "my" condo, sleeping on the floor, if I were you. You are more tolerant than I!

BTW: You were in my dreams, last night. You were driving to Oregon and stopped by someplace in mid-Kansas (not sure where) where I was living with my parents in a huge apartment. Of course I invited you to spend the night! You and I fixed dinner, in a not-very-well-coordinated manner and I awoke. Holy Moly!

Thinking of you!

Re-reading your blog post in Jewish Review, I wondered if you still use the word "retired" to describe yourself or, if someone asked what you did, you would reply that you write this blog.

I agree that it's unfortunate that we are defined by our jobs in this culture, but it is a reality, so I wonder if many retired people might consider reframing how they describe what they "do" and come up with a label that would be appropriate for them and enlightening for those who ask. "I'm a gardener. I specialize in growing native plants," or "I'm a student of literature. I'm currently reading all the works of Hemingway," or "I'm a volunteer at the animal shelter. I handle all the clerical responsibilites and assist with fundraising," seem like responses that would steer further conversation in a worthwhile direction. You can always add that you had a previous career in whatever field applies, if that seems germane, but I'm saddened by people who respond only that they "used to be" something but now they're retired.

I've never been fond of the word "retire" because it means "to go away, to withdraw or remove oneself" or more accurately, "to get out of the way of the younger generations because older people have no value." Why accept a label with such negative connotations? Even if you devote most of your time to quiet, solitary meditation, you are actively doing something.

I'm a writer and an artist so, for as long as I can participate in those activities, I will never define myself as "retired," even though the outlets for my creative efforts may diminish or change. Granted, it may take some time to redefine yourself if you're no longer employed in a job that required you to go to an office daily, but it seems that who you are should reflect what your interests are, not where you hang your hat from nine to five. Does this way of thinking resonate with you, Ronni, or with anyone else?

Cynthia, it resonates with me.

"Careers" as they were once defined, ("I work at XYZ Corporation in Finance") are fairly unreliable things these days.

"I work in finance" is still a perfectly true statement if you keep books at the animal shelter, have actually succeeded at refinancing your bad mortgage, and manage your household bills and wobbly cash flow online. You just don't get your task-based identity through XYZ Corporation anymore.

I recently sat through a "Getting a Job at 50-Plus" seminar that largely resembled a severe beating for a roomful of people who were 1) unemployed; 2) quite understandably bitter about how they've been treated, even though we all understand how we all need to "get over it"; and 3) able to sit still for four hours of hearing how everything they did in their adult lives was worthless and wrong. (Now THAT'S self control).

One good takeaway from this ordeal, though, was the need for the 30-second "elevator speech" in case your hapless self should accidentally network with a job-granting "decision maker."

You just gave a perfect rendition of that very thing. Your examples are far better than Seminar Guy's.

Ronni, get lots of rest when you can. Ollie will come around. The others are right, he's scared of What's Next, and you (and we) know that it can only be better from here. But a big move is draining and disorienting even on people who know (intellectually, anyway) that it's actually going quite well.

Comcast in Oregon, I've found, is a lot nicer in person and on the support desk than in the cross-country set-up phase. I have to admit, their broadband is truly excellent--fast and reliable. I think you'll start liking them better soon.

YAY!!! [joins cile in a little dance]

Welcome home, hydrate, and glad you found the clothes washer, the bank, and the Safeway. We are glad to see you.

Ronni, I hope you have no more snags on your way to a life in Oregon. Ollie will come around; I guarantee it.

"Lake Oswego is lovely" are so right. I can just imagine you puttering along state street. Oh, and the Arts Festival....I'm very happy for you. Yes, welcome to Orygun.

Well, welcome to the Northwest! I'm in Seattle now, visiting grandkids and so on.
Hope to see you one of these times soon in person!

Cynthia, yes, I agree with you about the label "retired." Can't stand it and can't relate to it.

Ronni, I left a message at your previous post because I followed Naomi's link from her blog...
Will read your brother's article.

Ollie, OM.

I think it might be a blessing in disguise that your furniture didn't arrive on time. This forces you to take some 'down time' and get rested up for the next exhausting phase of getting settled in.

I am so glad the trip went reasonably well. I know you must be so glad that you made this move and I am sure your brother is happy, as well.

Happy New Home!!!

Congratulations. Ollie, and you too, deserve a super reward. Does Ollie like salmon? lobster? a mound of catnip?

Greatly enjoy reading of your birthing yourself into a new you. you are lucky to have a kind brother who cares about you. Love the bank. Nice as Portland Maine might be, having lived in the cold north country I can just sense that Portland is warmer and friendlier and I don't just mean the weather.

Have fun settling in and learning your new home. be well, Suki

There you are. I went out yesterday and never got back to the computer, but wondered all day -- where's Ronni? where's Ollie?

Our cat would be biting and scratching under these circumstances; she learned before we knew her she had to fight for herself. This will pass.

Work ahead, but at least it will be novel! Cheers.

I love the "I own it and it's empty" phase of moving. Sitting on the floor in different corners, watching the light patterns and feeling the air flow, deciding what color kitchen towels to buy.... it's so full of possibilities and adventure.

Your bank sounds marvelous and you sound so much less stressed. Let the living begin!

Ronni - your bank sounds like the Bailey Bank in ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE....and despite all the hastle it is!!! Glad you made it and Ollie - give him a squeeze for me - I am so impressed that your brother is an editor of the Jewish Review - I guess I got lucky "meeting" so talented a family. Ronni - Thank you so much for letting me write My Mother's Story - you are just a gem.

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