Kicking and $creaming

I began working during the summer before my senior year, in 1968. After eight years in factories, department stores, and restaurants, I finally got a job in the financial department of a music company handwriting receipts for mail orders (yes, before computers, we actually used ballpoint pens). I stayed with that company for the next 14 years, moving through the ranks from Girl Friday (terrible term, that) to Financial Secretary to Data Entry, Accounts Receivable to Accounts Payable to Junior Accountant. I sometimes worked second jobs along the way slapping pizzas, pouring cappuccinos and, best of all, as Maestro Salazar's assistant with the symphony and his TA at the college. I was a single parent and did whatever it took...

In 1990 I was earning enough musically to drop the desk job and I felt like I'd finally attained something: freedom from the Ant Farm. In 1992, however, my father was diagnosed with colon cancer and as my mother needed to continue working, my parents asked if I would consider moving to Denver to take care of Dad. In return, I could live in their basement apartment free of charge (fortunately, I was debt-free and had no credit card bills). They would even pay me a little to cook and clean. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am all about kith and kin, and in my thinking there was no decision to make. My family needed me and that was all there was to it.

After my father died in 1993, I went back to work, which was hard because, at the age of 42 I'd been out of the loop for three years and potential employers couldn't quite understand my explanation when they wondered why my resume had a three-year gap in it. The first job I got was sitting in a cubicle at a sanitary supplies company, alphabetizing invoices that had accumulated for two years. Talk about spirit-sucking grunt work! I, a junior accountant! (If I were a man that wouldn't have happened, I'll bet.) I stuck with it all the same and within the year I was moved to Accounts, where I worked as the A/R's assistant.

When I moved back to California in 1995, I immediately landed a 6-month contract as a technical writer in the safety department at Procter & Gamble. That was a cool job; I love technical writing, especially when it involves creating illustrations like that job did. When that contract was fulfilled I was hired at a company that manufactured connectors and cables for NASA, as the executive administrative assistant to the vice president of the company. That was a real challenge because I was in charge of a dozen departmental checkbooks, requisitions, orders, work orders, etc. I loved the work, my co-workers, and my boss, but I hated how the company was run. It was downright prison-like: no food or drinks at our desks, no music, no personalization of our desk and workspace. Hell, we couldn't even go to the restroom until a bell rang. When they closed down I went on to a job at a carpenter's union. That was fun... complete with death and bomb threats, union thugs, sexism, and paranoia... Since then I've worked temp jobs at a major investment firm, a headhunter corporation, the local Mercruiser factory, and a couple of minor desk jobs.

In 2000 my mother had a stroke, and when I learned of my brother's plan to dump her in a fleabag nursing home, I beat a path to Denver and brought her here to live with us, where I stayed home to take care of her for the next four years. Toward the end of her life my own health took a bad turn and I was unable to go back to work. I still had an income, however, thanks to a mutual funds account and my own work as a web designer. It wasn't a lot, but it was something.

Now I am being forced back to work. I don't mind working, but I am concerned about how the hell I'm going to do it with my health in the state that it's in. As it is, I can barely walk the first four hours of my day because of pinched nerve pain due to Degenerative Disc Disease. Then, there's the ever-present Hashimoto's Disease, but my meds are working excellently right now and I feel pretty darned good, so I really don't think that's an issue. Until my next blood work is done, anyway, and my doctor messes with my doses again.

I have only one request: because I really don't want to leave semi-retirement and because this is only a temporary situation, I'd really like to just alphabetize invoices again, please.