Misery 2003 - 2004 In December of 2003, I got a long term Temp job at a Dairy, in their admin offices. They were promoting a new protein drink to doctors offices (like Ensure) and when they agreed to accept a case, I entered their addresses into a database. Sometimes I worked in a supervisor's office. She had two clocks that ticked and tocked in the deathly quiet. One of my funniest office stories happened there. One day a young woman saw me and said, Oh! I need to get you a holiday gift! Since you're working here, you get one too! She ran off, and returned with a 2 lb box of processed American Cheese. Not even Velveeta brand, but Borden brand American Cheese. As Steve and I used to say, Thank you so much. We bought Rotel and Tostitos and made our first cheese dip. Pic #2 is Mooshie on Steve's lap while he's at the computer. She would reach up and touch his face. Pic #4 is Mooshie and the hair ties she loved to chase. Pic #5 has a typo in the date. It was 04 not 03. This is one of those images I have returned to many times. Pic #6 is for fun. I drove past this abandoned gas station on the way to the dairy. Gas for 81 cents a gallon! There were a few good things in Misery. The mall, with the farmers market in the parking lot Saturday morning. An Amish farmer ran an ice cream maker with a John Deere engine. The Japanese Stroll Garden. Andy's Custard. The game store. We made a gaming friend from there and we are still friends. Once I asked him why it seemed like everyone was looking at us sideways in the grocery store and he said, Because they are. In January I finally found a permanent full-time job. With benefits! As Executive Assistant to the President of a nursing college attached to a health center. She was a black woman and she hired me because I was NOT from around there.
A few Journaling Project pieces from 2003. #LisasLunchboxGallery Text from 3. I dreamed last night I was hugging Emmett. He jumped up on the top of the couch, and I put my arms around him. Job hunting in Misery: I made the mistake of thinking this was a normal place, like the other places I had lived. It was not. I signed up at an employment agency and also applied for jobs in the paper. Here's what would happen in the interviews: The job includes doing all of our accounting and bookkeeping, our payroll, assisting the owner, making travel arrangements and serving as the front desk person. It pays $8-$10.00 an hour. Me: 😮 Is this an entry-level job? WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT? What I meant was: why would I be doing the work of three people for shit wages? But I didn't say that. There were some jobs that were $6.00 an hour. Many with no benefits. Finally I called up the employment agency to ask what was going on. I was told, Lisa! $8-10.00 an hour IS A GOOD PAYING JOB IN THIS TOWN! 😮 Also: You can't just come in here and take a good paying job from someone who's from here! 😮 ... 😮 Meanwhile, we were running out of money and could not pay the credit card bills. I found an attorney who only needed $50.00 to open a file. He told me to stop paying those bills. Soon, legally, they would not be able to send me a bill. And we just bought a car! We didn't have a car in Seattle and Springfield was not a metro friendly town. So we made copies of the car payment and never missed a payment, nor was that debt discharged, only the credit cards. This is apparently common. I also got a deferment on my student loan. I temped in a doctor's office transcribing voicemails. I temped on Saturdays at a place that sent out appliance repair men. That owner offered to hire me. I'll pay you cash. 😮 This was truly a bizarre place.
Pic from the weekend. Slightly blurry but looks great #filtered Symon 😺
Misery November 2003 A series of Journaling Project pieces. The text: 1. What Happened This Week in my Life? (An experiment.) Sunday. Nothing gets a cat owner out of bed faster than HACK HACK HACK. 2. My hands froze when I gassed up the car. Surfing for jobs. 3. Rereading 2002 journal pieces. Mom leaning on my arm in the hospital. (My Dad died right after we moved to Misery. His wife shocked me by paying for my plane ticket. This was a memory from when my Mom died in 1991.) 4. Two days receptionist (mornings) at a temp job. Monday night: went to bed with heat off. Tuesday morning: 68 degrees. Even I'm cold! Steve got sick. 5. HELP. I NEED A HAIRCUT. I want to sketch Lin at 14 or 15. We really miss Seattle. Where are we going to get Hannukah candles? 6. Tuesday: The attorney didn't like that I may only be here two years. He didn't buy the Steve wants to teach story. JUST GIVE ME A FREAKIN JOB. 7. Worried over finances. Whew - got rent covered. Wed. Lunch at the mall. I call home to check messages. The SMSU VP calls to say they chose another candidate - but have a great holiday! OH, SURE, YOU JACKASS! 8. Thanksgiving. My first turkey. (Cooking one.) DO NOT TRUST THE THERMOMETER. ALWAYS CHECK THE JUICES. Turkey Dinner. 9. Steve said, Just this once! Turkey skin. Steve spent the day typing and typing his paper. #LisasLunchboxGallery
We moved to Springfield, Misery in 2003, where Steve attended grad school. He chose this program because it concentrated on defense and strategic studies. The reason I call Missouri Misery (and I never don't say Misery) is because it was. The job market was terrible. I had to declare bankruptcy to get rid of credit card debt. And I didn't find a permanent job until January. We moved there with only Mooshie, the old lady cat. She lived to be 20. She died in early 2005. We think she had a stroke. After that, we were catless for awhile.
Freckled Bean. #nofilter needed.
Seattle Journaling Project pieces. 2000-2003 Steve worked as a Barista at Seattle's Best Coffee ☕ the whole time we were in Seattle. It was on the same block as our apartment. There's a drawing here from across the street. Starbucks bought SBC right after we left Seattle. And they closed that store. Swipe left for two more pieces: one of Emmett and one of the view from the law firm conference room. It had rained and there was a rainbow across the hill above Lake Union. That's where we lived. I decided to attend a writer's conference in Tacoma. It may have been the PNW Writer's Association? I don't care enough to look it up. They were useless. Steve and I rode a commuter bus to Tacoma. I went to talks that were unhelpful and meetings that were maddening. Onstage these publishers all said they had made money on books they never thought would sell and also that they passed on books that became best sellers. They said onstage they were looking for unusual and unique ideas. But in small groups: no, you have to show me other books precisely like yours. But there are no other books like my small drawings. Well, there must be a reason for that. I had copies of my pieces and they refused to look at them. I was in a small group with the director or whatever of the writers Association and he glanced at my pages, then dropped them on the table and said, Well if that's just your personal diary, well, who would want to read that?! I didn't go to any other talks. Steve and I stayed in our hotel room playing Star Trek Full Thrust battles (Starship combat with minis). I mailed my membership card back to them. While I was Temping at the bookmark company, there was a Book Arts show in Seattle. I wrote a story about underwire bras in a handmade book. It was accepted into the show! AND it was purchased by the Book Arts department at the University of Washington! (However, afterwards I emailed them to ask how anyone could view it and got no response, so it was apparently dropped into a black hole). I did copy it onto J. Pieces so I could have a record of it. So I was trying to get my artwork out there. #LisasLunchboxGallery
We moved to Seattle in 2000. Steve calls it our three year vacation. I kept drawing The Journaling Project. See the picture of me drawing? Swipe left to see what I was drawing. I had three office jobs while I was there. Job #2 was on the 54th floor of a high rise (see photo). I had a view of the Cascades mountain range from my desk. I worked for an attorney who represented companies trying to be broadband providers. With the Tech Bust, they all went bankrupt. I was laid off. However, since I was let go through no fault of my own, I collected unemployment. And got a deferral on my student loan. I loved being unemployed. I had a fantastic Temp job, at a company that made plastic clip over the page bookmarks. The Temps clipped the bookmarks onto their display cards, then secured them with a sticker. Our supervisor was a young woman who played all kinds of different music CDs for us. Then I got job #3 supporting attorneys at a company that administered student loans. While in Seattle, there was an Op Ed in the paper written by a part time professor who taught writing. They described how universities were hiring more part time instructors so they wouldn't have to give them benefits. This person taught classes in multiple locations and said they never earned more than $12,000.00 a year. Well, who wants that? My salary was higher in Seattle ($36K) but so were expenses. Once we went to a restaurant up the street called Asteroid Cafe. We didn't realize everything was extra and spent $75.00 on a mediocre pasta meal. But we loved our neighborhood, with bars and restaurants within walking distance. We are city people but we can't afford to live in a city. I was still reading art magazines, and one of them had an article where this guy stated that art schools were not producing enough MFAs to replace retiring faculty and there was a shortage. Um, what?!! I wrote them a letter to say THIS IS BULL-💩 and someone called me (they have to verify before printing). The young woman I spoke to said, I concur. This MFA job Boom never happened. We lost our cat Griffin 2001 to illness. We adopted Emmett, but we only had him two years, losing him to illness. #LisasLunchboxGallery