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une petite crise

Posted Jun 08 2006 12:00am
"A little crisis," but not exactly -- the sense of it in French is different from the impression you get from the English phrase. It's not a crisis at all, just a period of mild angst.

A few days ago, I received my Social Security statement in the mail. It contained such charming information as how much I can collect if I retire at such-and-such an age, and all that other stuff. Of particular interest to me: first, I'm no longer eligible for SS disability because I haven't worked enough (any) qualifying quarters in the last 5 years. Not that I'm thinking I'll need the disability payouts, because I'm not thinking that. It's the lack of qualifying quarters that bothered me. You don't have to earn very much at all to qualify, you know.

Second, the last year before I left the workforce, I earned more than $75,000.

Crikey, that's a lot of money. It was a lot more than in the previous few years, too, because I worked full time for several months, trying to convince Oracle that they didn't have to lay me off. They laid me off anyway.

Having let these two data items sink in, I find myself more and more annoyed at my lack of productivity and pathetic earnings. Let me state unequivocally that this is all coming from me, DH has nothing to do with my own feelings of profound inadequacy.

We had a conversation, it went something like this:
Me: I feel stupid.
Him: (cautiously) Why?
Me: I'm doing these silly jobs (writing the column, and now doing storytime) that are paying practically nothing, and they take up a lot of time. Do you think it's a waste of my time?
Him: I always thought you are doing those things because you want to do them.
Me: I do, but I sometimes think I'm selling myself short, or I'm letting people take advantage of me.
Him: It doesn't have to be that complicated. If you like what you're doing, then you are doing it because you want to, not because someone manipulated you into it.

We kind of left it at that, because there's really nothing more to say. I want to say, shouldn't I be charging more for my columns, or for doing the storytime gigs? Maybe I could, but these things are not about the money. They are about the experience, and the money is more or less a token to show that yes, this is real work being done here.

Every so often I get weird about money. I've been weird about spending since the arrival of the iPod, unnecesarily so. That unfortunate weirdness was extended by the arrival of the SSI statement: See, you're not earning!

You'd think that after being out of the workforce for seven years, I'd be over this by now, but I'm not. I was an earner, and a very good one, for 15 years before I quit, and I don't know what it's going to take for me to finally put to rest the idea that there is something wrong with me because I'm not earning right now.

Well! There's nothing to be done right now, anyway. One last storytime on Friday, and then vacation starts in earnest, and we'll be off to Massachusetts in just a few weeks. Then in August, the kids will start school and I'll head back to Houston, and we'll see what's what. With any luck at all, I'll be done with the cancer thing, and then maybe I can look into doing something that pays a little better.

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