Democrat in a Republican State

It is election time. Acquaintances flash their politics in public. Friends ask my opinion in reference to something Mitt said. Politicians bash each other in political ads. Each one keeps talking and talking. It is like watching bobble heads on the back dash of a bashed up yellow Pinto, while sitting in grid lock traffic.

Borderlines is a small cafe in Powderly, TX. While eating biscuits and gravy one early morning, CNN was blaring from the television above my head. The room was full of omnipotent  “good ole boys,” sloshing coffee and bleating their derogatory racial opinions about my president. I was the only female in the restaurant and their conversation was intended to be heard by all. The majority laughed and agreed. It prompted a general consensus within the room while creating a competitive rally for attention and like remarks.

I felt sorry for these men. Blatant ignorance is intolerable. Obviously, they felt comfortable to release their hatred in the familiar environment. It appeared to be repetitive mimics rendered from the habitual exposure to a community unable to think for themselves. If they have any education, it failed them. If they have no education, their families and the state of Texas have failed them.You don’t go to school to learn stuff. You go to school to learn to think.

Texas is a conservative state. It is Bush and Perry country. The more these politicians talk, the obvious becomes evident. Perry bumbled and fumbled during his recent “skip and fail” to the White House. A few years ago, I sent a written request to Governor Perry, requesting information in reference to the status of “No Child Left Behind”. One of his underlings mailed me a large manilla envelope full of grandiloquence. It was a mirror image of the governor’s recent debate performance. He kept talking – and talking. We learned what it appears to be unprepared, unstudied and lost. The manila envelope reflected the same performance. BTW, the illustrious Governor Bush mimicked the same sentiments. Texas is at the bottom of education rankings, according to the most recent statistics.

Texans are very proud of their political convictions. It is easy when the majority follows as cows do in the pasture. Conversations escalate into emotional uprising. Exemption for time and place is non-existent. During a business lunch appointment, I was confronted by a co-worker, in front of my client, because I did not express my view of the adoration for the current party in office. Because I did not openly confess my political view or confirmation of their views, the assumption was made that I must be a liberal. I have been subjected to southern belle and “keep in your place” conversation in reference to how stately the First Lady looks or how “presidential” George is looking. Included in this conversation was one acquaintance telling the small gathering, she had to return a dress to the store because her husband didn’t like it! She wasn’t allowed to keep it, if he didn’t approve. This woman had a 6 figure income, a college degree and high professional recognition. Her opinion is “well trained”. Years later, I am still flabbergasted by this mode of behavior.

Before the last presidential election, my brother-in-law was laid off, my brother was laid off, my Realtor® associates were struggling and starving, our oldest son was an unemployed veteran, and I was laid off. A close friend asked me if I was voting for George W. She stated they have always voted Republican. I told her I take a common sense view of how an election would personally affect me. Our family still had utility and mortgage payments due. Grocery and gasoline prices were rapidly escalating. Hurricane Ike had taken one of our homes. George W closed the air space above Bolivar Peninsula so the American public wouldn’t view the devastation or repeat the Katrina nightmare. My nieces didn’t have school clothes because their father was unemployed, as were their aunt and uncles. My laid off co-workers were losing their cars to repossession and homes to foreclosure. We were living off of our emergency funds which were earning interest lower than the fees to sustain the accounts. Our home values were recklessly declining. “No,” I told my friend. “I am not voting for a continuation of the same condition”.

When the democrats are in office, we are purchasing homes, We are well employed. Our children have what they need. There is food on the table and gas in the car. When Reagan was in office, it was almost prohibitive to purchase a home due to the exorbitant interest rates.If you did purchase the home, you couldn’t afford anything else.  Clinton created a viable and sustaining standard of living – allowing us to enjoy our families and take a trip or two to Dairy Queen. We were able to save money for retirement, A lot of retirement savings have been spent to survive the last Bush administration.

As Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that working for you?” Call it brave or call it stupid – I can only make a decision based on personal experience. As a female, it is a choice I am able to make without an illiterate politician making it for me.






New Age vs Old Age Employmemt Challenges

Unemployment is difficult enough. If your previous employment spanned many, many years – the process is similar to getting a divorce after the silver anniversary. The interview process is in the same category as “What do I wear on the post-divorce first date and am I expected to sleep with them?”

Without going into the world viewing youth as intelligence and aging as demented, crazy and invisible, the interview process is arduous, at best. Interviewers are getting younger as you age in the lobby, surrounded by people your kid’s ages. Especially for the first five or six interview outings, you are most likely over dressed and lacking a nose ring. Your wrinkles and graying hair are secondary to the archaic briefcase or portfolio under your arm. Shoes with buckles and shoestrings are passe’. A good pair of flip-flops or any shoes made of rubber and dirty toenails are available for viewing. The employment opportunities for this scenario are not blue-collar. They are actually professional sales, financial and technological positions.

I had been laid off, for the first time in my long-term professional life, after the age of 40. One interviewer, who appeared to have just rolled out of couch, held his Blackberry up in front of me and asked, “Do you know what this is?” Another wiseass asked if I knew how to turn a laptop on. I informed him that I had the capability of not only turning it on, but take it apart, put it back together and re-program the entire thing. I guess he didn’t like my response because “Tiffany Cleavage” in the lobby, got the job. One of my friends, a current employee with this up and coming executive, was seeking new employment but was in desperate financial straits and stuck. She was also ten years younger than I was.

Being a bit outspoken, follow-up to an interview, always yielded jolly propaganda. I always asked what my deficits may have been. The ones who didn’t blow smoke gave me some true insight such as:

  • You look like a banker
  • I couldn’t picture you unloading product from an 18 wheeler – (This was not in the job description or mentioned during the interview!)
  • You would have my job in a day or two and I couldn’t risk hiring you.

One employment opportunity resulted in four interviews. The first three “show and tells”  allowed the escalation of executives a chance to increase expenses by flying into Houston from Boston – otherwise, they would have flown me and/or the other candidates to Boston! The position, up for grabs, was highly compensated and possessed an upper echelon profile. An assessment after Interview #2 yielded that I had an “extreme sense of urgency”! During the process, the company recruiter would telephone me and discuss the previous appointment and inform me of the “going forward” recommendation for yet another go around. A Don Draper, Mad Men type conducted interview #4.  He was the epitome of a well upholstered “suit”. Five minutes into the engagement, he mocked my responses which included one of my hand gestures. Looking back, I wished it had been one of my other hand gestures. He challenged each one of my replies to his questions in a most derogatory and demeaning manner. Fifteen minutes later, as the hair on the back of my neck stood up, I backed my way to the conference room exit while he continued to prattle. I ended the interview.

The recruiter called a few hours later. She asked why I exited the interview early. I gave her the generic response that I was not the right candidate for the position. She informed me that my competition for the job was only one other person. Again, I told her it was not a “good fit”. A few days later, she called me again. She was insistent in knowing why I left the interview. Was it my place to inform her Mr. Suit intuitively appeared a predator, woman-hater, wife beater and general asshole? Yea, Baby, I could just imagine a cross-country travel rendezvous business trip with him as my vice-president! The telephone conversation created the instantaneous response reflex of:

  • Do I assassinate his character and risk a lawsuit?
  • What are the benefits of telling the recruiter something she already knew?
  • Did she really want to hear my conclusions based on life experience, knowing of a bunch of gems like him and intuition?

I made a business quick wit and allowed the recruiter to conclude the outcome with the results of the process. A lot of time, money, travel, and dry cleaning expense to have a qualified candidate turn them down when the horses were coming around the bend and headed for the straight a way. They’re smart people. I think this may have been a déjà vu.

Appropriately, each of us knows when we are qualified and age was a non-hire condition. My personal experience with the hiring process yields the following direction with the interview process:

  •  Do not use Old Spice or Youth-Dew fragrances.
  • Do not be late – Especially a whole day.
  •  Do not have your significant other drive you and wait with the kids in the reception area.
  • Keep the cocktail wear for bar mitzvahs, wedding receptions, glamour shots and family portraits –  Send a photo to the Ellen Show.
  • Stay awake and sober for the interview.
  • Be yourself.
  • Be true to yourself.



Cable Cut – Dish Cut – Cost Cut

Extensive research has revealed there are a lot of people cutting the cable and disconnecting the satellite dish. The numbers vary depending on the data source. It is a huge decision because it changes your routine, habits, lifestyle and psyche.

When our children were young, we moved into a new home. A demanding job did not allow me the luxury of making an appointment to have the cable company set up service immediately. You would have thought someone ripped our 9-year-old’s heart out without an anesthetic. The cable company would not give a specific appointment time. It was a block of time which spanned morning or afternoon. I had been a previous victim. Taking a day off of work for a no-show technician did nothing but set me off like Sputnik. Our 9 year old did not receive the “luxury” of cable/satellite, again until he was 14 years old. The only reason he then received the gift of hundreds of channels was because his older brother was on a ship in a war zone and we became extreme news junkies.

By the way, when the satellite was installed, I had to call the billing department every month for years because the billing was incorrect. A credit would be issued, but the problem persisted. Every time it rained or the wind picked up, the service was “iffy”. I called customer service so many times, I eventually could re-program and re-position the satellite dish, with someone on the roof to scream instruction to,  without their assistance. Hurricane Ike blew the satellite off of the roof. My relationship with the satellite dish was starting to fray.

When you have a satellite/cable service – the family takes it for granted. The majority of the viewing, to my observation, were channels we were able to access at no charge with a homemade antenna created from leftover ceiling grid in our attic. The billing statement reflected a fee for HD access. When the televisions were on the antenna, we had HD at no charge. The satellite provider scrambled the HD and we were paying them a fee for HD to be accessible through their service. We were also paying to access local programming for which we were able to access “FREE” on the antenna. For an outrageous total charge per month, we could watch repetitious commercials, a whole lot of shopping channels, MTV that wasn’t the MTV I had loved and every single time I turned HBO on, they were showing “Somewhere in Time” starring Christopher Reeves. It didn’t matter what day or what time – that movie was on. Christopher will always be Superman to me – and dearly missed.

The 14-year-old grew up and graduated from college. A decision was made to stop the tv service madness. At the time, we lived outside of Houston. There were 54 channels available through the antenna. Now, some were in languages I had always intended to learn and a few were extremely religious. Most were in HD and reception was crystal clear. The same can’t be said for living outside of beautiful Paris, TX. Our antenna access amounts to CBS, Fox and 2 limited Oklahoma PBS channels. If anyone with money is in Oklahoma reading this – please contribute to your PBS station. The programs showing now were seen in Houston a long time ago. That said, my interest lies in access to local weather which can be seen on the CBS channel.

Any television viewing is now accomplished by switching over to Roku. World news, national news, Pandora, Netflix, HuluPlus, etc are here to entertain, educate and teach me how to make my own creme fraiche. Netflix is better at less or no commercial interruptions than HuluPlus. It was a fantastic to watch 4 seasons of Mad Men without any commercials. Continuous story line and actual use of the 18 minutes, average, time in my life to do something constructive – instead of multiple and redundant commercials to stop hemmoroid itching or to lose weight. By the way, we didn’t do the Mad Men marathon where you start the gig at 10:00 am, in your night clothes and watch continuously for 20 hours at a time! No, we watched the episodes in the evening over a period of weeks!

Instead of watching mindless prattle available for a fee, we are now able to choose exactly what we want to watch and when we want to watch it. It was not a hard habit to break. Think of how many hours your children and family members are glued to the tv out of habit. Ask them when they last saw a movie or program on a premium channel and discuss the subject matter. You will be amazed by the feedback.

If you subscribe to Netflix, HuluPlus and assorted other programs accessible through the internet, your savings can amount to over $1,000.00 per year by cutting the cable/satellite service. This depends on your current expenditure and your future decisions. The most valued benefit we have received is time.



Book Club

Visiting allows you to view a town with a tourist attitude of entertainment. After the shock of moving and being able to find Walgreens, I have noticed a huge religious culture in northeast Texas. There are far more churches than retailers, restaurants and recreation/arts facilities. A dry county has meaning to me, now. . Beer and wine are now sold in select stores, which is “new” to the area. It is a road trip to obtain vodka to make a shaken martini.

A discussion this week has led me to believe religion is the focus of the communities surrounding me. Trying to understand the inherent population likens it to being a “book club”. The glue of the community is obviously the bible. Numerous ways and means are developed to gather and discuss a book. The local newspaper advertises a directory of places to worship. There are multiple flavors of Baptist churches. Not a mention of Greek Orthodox or Missouri Synod Lutheran. Advertising for local businesses supporting places of worship is also featured. Chick-fil-A wears christian beliefs on their sleeve. Intentional or innocent,  there can be repercussions for personal expression within the business/corporate arena.

My concern lies in the fact that extremes are never a good thing. Diversity and exposure to additional facets of the world will educate and teach you to think beyond yourself. Baskin Robbins may not have been a business success if they only offered plain vanilla ice-cream cones. What would life be like without a birthday ice-cream cake or sprinkles on a Cotton Candy Ice Cream cone. Continuously staying in your comfort zone is nothing more than a repetition of the same – nothing gained. It hampers growth. Is there a fear associated with a walk on the wild side?  Wild side interpreted as listening to a democratic view for a minute without preaching?

The house next door was recently purchased by a lovely mature couple. Before the house was “closed”, we had a few conversations with them. Within minutes we learned the mister had devoted a major portion of his life to missionary work. This is a commendable feat and worthy of one’s elevator speech.  After they closed on their home, we were informed they based their decision to purchase on the fact that we, their new neighbors, appeared to be like them. Assumptions and perception are a tricky passage. We all want to fit in without the pain of conflict or conversion.

My previous work partner asked me where  the night clubs and party places are when I showed him this area on Google. I don’t “club” anymore – due to wanting to wake up with my head on my shoulders and knowing where my vehicle is. It wasn’t an important factor when deciding to move here. Visiting a “night club” will expose you to individuals from one end of the spectrum to the other. Night clubs are not always one in the same folk, wearing a uniform and singing the same old tune. Night clubs can be cafe’s, coffee shops, disco dance halls, square dancing, two stepping, beer gardens and wine bars.

Connecting with people sharing a common denominator may be a challenge. I would never join a club that would have me as a member. I don’t want to be like everyone else. Never did. That said, we all have to have a shared feeling or view to “get along”. Getting along can be disconcerting when you see the world through a telescope and everyone else has a microscope. I know this jukebox has more than one record in it!

It is all part of the journey.

Adjustment –

Initial Observations

I just moved from the 4th largest city in the USA to a town north of Paris, Texas.  “Visiting” and “living” in a place can be quite different. The area is beautiful with lakes, lots of trees and green space is the specialty. There are no commuter incidents – there are few commuters! The stars at night are magnified just because there is no conflict from billboards, mega dealerships, malls, 12 lane freeways or marketing competitions. It’s quiet, too. The change, I feel, is like I was previously riding a rocket without a helmet and now I am waiting for a bus with a parasol  – on a rural route.

Your creative spirit epitomizes when you don’t have what you need at your whim. We tried purchasing towel bars the other day. The 2 or 3 stores selling this item have very few choices and even on a compromise of style – the required sizes were unavailable. In the meantime, wet towels are hung over the shower rod! Patience will be the foundation of this transition.

In another vein – there are multiple non-franchise eateries to choose from. Someone in the back is actually cooking food! It is not “nuked”, flash frozen re-thawed, or kit produced. Most produce is a lot fresher – the source is close at hand. What the big cities announce as organic is usual fare here.The one deficit, at this early stage of being here, is there is no “fine dining” experience available. I will have to save those for road trips to Dallas or Houston. Learning to cook what I haven’t been able to find has had a few trials and tribulations – I can’t find fresh bean sprouts or snow peas. The ethnic ingredient availability is limited or non-existent – unless you’re making barbecue (cowboy food) or covered dishes for a church supper.

The bakeries are out of this world. Creative and delightful pieces of heaven handed to you in a little white box. This alone will keep my ass happy. When I die – I want a cookie in one hand and a donut in the other. There are two candy stores I have patronized. Neither sells candy by the pound. They are priced per piece. One shop had no air conditioning (the outside temp was 105 degrees that day) and the candies were itty-bitty. The other shop had a congenial shop keeper with huge chunks of chocolate ecstasy priced the same, per piece, as the other shop. Guess where I will become a loyal fan?

Three weeks in – I barely know the neighbors. I can find my way to a grocery store and the post office. I am 1,000 square feet short on living space until we build a home – try finding anything of any importance when you have space bags and boxes stacked as high as you are tall! The pillow cases are not matching and the flat ware has gone on leave, but I am happy to finally be here.