Saturday, June 11, 2005

Good News, Bad News/Ends and Beginnings

First the good news: I am in San Luis Obispo for my son's graduation from Cal Poly. Actually, the graduation was this morning, at 9:00. We were way early in order to get a good seat for my 86-year-old mother-in-law who has a bum knee. The fog was in, and I sat there in my cool little black linen dress and bare legs and pretty but useless green shrug and just froze. Some time around 9:45, the fog burned off and instantly it was warm as toast. As a consequence, I'm now sporting a pretty good sunburn. Who thinks about sunscreen when you're freezing.

The graduation was in two parts, the first, what I call the Moonie graduation, where they make speeches and then they confer a degree on the masses, the second at the individual colleges, like my son's for Electrical Engineering, where they call the students individually and give them a paper. It's not actually a diploma. It says "Congratulations on participating in commencement exercises." Many, my son included, still have a teensy bit to go, despite having "walked." But it was a milestone nonetheless, a happy occasion, one he has worked hard to make happen. And we are confident that the real degree will happen.

Afterwards, we toasted champagne with him and his friends at his place and tonight we'll all go to dinner. I could go on, say more, though possibly I should say less. My son is a musician as well as a engineer geek, and his friends, many of them musicians, are great kids, embarking on their lives in so many different ways....

The bad news happened last Thursday, to me. Some of my closest friends know, but many do not. On Thursday morning, while my mother-in-law, staying in our home, was congratulating us on how well life is going for us, I was laid off from my technical writing job at IBM. It's true I never really liked the job, that I was incredibly stressed, and often complained about it. But it really was our bread and butter--John's photography business was just the dessert. Now we have to reevaluate, make decisions.

It seems that rationally there is no way for us to proceed with the house stuff we were hoping to do--the dry rot work, replacing the rotten deck, and so forth. It also seems that I cannot rationally contemplate starting a literary magazine now. It would be like pouring money into a hole, wouldn't it?

I want to brainstorm and really think about what to make of my life at this point. We had, since my dad died last Fall, gotten out of debt for the first time in our lives, and I'm terrified to get back in debt. I've never had an easy time spending money on myself, but enjoy being free enough to be generous. After the graduation, I went out and bought one of those party platters of meat and cheese and another of cookies, also soda, melon and grapes--and there was the champagne, of course--for the whole crowd. I realized, as I took out my plastic, that I better not do this sort of thing too often now. (Of course, your only child doesn't graduate every day.)

Sorry this post is so personal, maybe not appropriate for a group blog. But I wanted to be open about it because I welcome suggestions from people. I want to hear ideas, however crazy. Maybe I'll just get another job and nothing will have changed and I will continue doing my poetry in my other life. Maybe, though, this is an opportunity to put it all together. On the other hand, maybe I should chuck it all and go live in Paris (just kidding--I think). Or should I go back to school?

So if you have a suggestion, even if it's nuts, let me hear it. I am not good at this change stuff, but I'm trying.


C. Dale said...

Diane, I am so sorry to hear this. But you have to stay as positive as you can. I know I hate it when people say that to me, but try. And know we are thinking of you and sending positive vibes your way. It will work out. I just know it will.

Lisa said...

Diane - Please e-mail me with your current contact info. I'm not getting a lot of extra freelance work just now, but I may soon - and it'd be lovely to have someone talented to pass it on to.

Diane K. Martin said...

Thanks, Lisa. Email sent. I appreciate your thoughts, and you too, C.Dale.

I am just now starting to get my head around this.

Still would love ideas from anyone out there.

Beverly said...

Diane-- I just heard, from Robert. I'm so sorry. What a bad deal. IBM doesn't deserve you anyway.

Really, though, could be an opportunity for you and John to make a change. The coincidence of Nathaniel finishing college (end of tuition bills) and you being released from a job you hated that allowed him to go to school, maybe there's something there.

On the other hand, the job market is probably not bad for someone with your skills. You could find another job you hate of course, but maybe one you halfway like.