I had an opportunity to work as a consultant at one of the big firms in New York City, but I think one consultant in the family is enough, so my acceptance decision deadline came and went on January 15th along with Saddam Hussein’s deadline to get out of Kuwait. I was home alone when the war started. It was so bizarre to watch the first attacks on Iraq live on CNN. I recorded it on the VCR so Lou could see it after he returned from one of his trips to PA. The CNN reporter was very professional, but I could tell he was freaking out because he was stuck in the hotel with the bombs going off all around. I imagine it was horrifying to feel that helpless and vulnerable, seeking a false sense of shelter under a table.

I still work part time at the Franklin Mint and have a feeling they think I’ll be better off elsewhere. A manager I don’t know well unexpectedly called me into his office a little before 5:00pm for an impromptu interview, which lasted for several hours. At school, we call this a stress interview. He asked me normal questions at first and made reference to all I have accomplished while working there, but then got deep into personality issues. He flat out accused me of being too nice, noting that he sees me in the corridors laughing and smiling when I talk to people. He views me as a flounder that will be quickly eaten up in the sea of sharks. He also drew a diagram on his office chalkboard, illustrating a stick-figure of me standing on the bank of a fast-moving river, and a raft coming downstream. He then barked out another rapid-fire interrogation question, “How are you going to get on that raft?”  I may have unwittingly smiled when I replied, “I’d better start running now.” He seemed satisfied with that answer, but the whole experience made me realize that I’d better start running to find another place to work. Bottom line is that I can stay there if I want, for a good salary, but no fancy title unless someone quits. People quit and get fired there all the time, so I’m not really worried about job titles or promotional opportunities. It’s more a matter of if I want to spend my working hours happy or stressed.

According to my doctor, I already have stress related health issues. As if my neck pain and headaches are not enough, I have chronic abdominal cramps and diarrhea, which is diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome. I manage to get through the days without taking anything for my neck or headaches because the medications make me a bit sleepy. Lou says that they make me dopey and change my personality in a way he doesn’t like. So, I don’t often take them at home either. I keep trying different meds to see if I can find ones that get rid of the pain, but don’t mess my head or personality up. I’m beginning to think that these meds only work because they mess your head up, and that they don’t really do anything else. I’ve gone for massages a few times, and that really seems to help loosen up the knots that I have in my neck and shoulder muscles. Lou will only rub my muscles for about a minute before he turns the massage into sex. He says he’s just not good at the massage thing. He doesn’t complain when I get a professional massage, I’m just cheap.

We’re not poor, by any means; we have two relatively new cars, and just about all the rooms in the house have been remodeled and decorated. We installed plush light grey carpet throughout the top floor and have a burgundy Chesterfield leather furniture set in the living room, and we refinished and reupholstered Lou’s mother’s old dining room set.  We also bought a new stereo system, with a CD player, and huge floor speakers. Lou wanted to get a record player, but the guy in the store convinced us that CD technology is the way to go.

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