Setting: In Lil's car on the way home from the park

Time: The other day

Players: Lil (38-year old auntie extraoidinaire, sitting in the driver's seat), The Nephew (13-year old nephew extraoridinaire, reclining in the passenger seat)

Atmosphere: "Slow Ride" by Foghat begins playing on the radio

The Nephew: Hey! It's Slow Ride. (begins playing air Guitar Hero guitar)

Lil: Yes, that it is.

The Nephew: It sounds just like in Guitar Hero III (continues playing air Guitar Hero guitar and now adds rock n' roll guitar player scrunchy faces)

Lil: (Perplexedly) That's because the song in Guitar Hero is the actual song.

The Nephew: Yeah, but it sounds JUST like it! (throws in wild air Guitar Hero guitar movements in addition to air guitar playing and rock n' roll scrunchy faces)

Lil: (Pauses for a moment) Well, this version does have the guitar playing throughout the whole song while during Guitar Hero, there are parts where there isn't any know when you miss a note and the guitar part cuts out.

The Nephew: (Stops playing air Guitar Hero guitar long enough to glare at Lil)

Lil: (Smiles)
This morning, I was tooling along down the freeway on my way to work. As I drove, I flipped through the radio stations, as is my wont to do (gotta love those radio controls set into the steering wheel). Flip, flip, flip. I end up on a station with the traffic report so I pause long enough to see if there is any impact on my drive time. After the announcer is finished with her report, a song starts to play. Tender Love by the Force MD's. Blast from the past, right? For me, that song isn't about a love gone awry or anything romantically related. I'm sure that I've mentioned it previously but the instrumental version of this song is what I listened to almost non-stop the week after my father died in 19-ought-86. He'd died on Sunday March 23rd and I left for Hawaii for a chorus competition the next day. The instrumental version was the B-side to the actual song. I owned this on a 45. (Excuse me while I take my Geritol) Anyway, I'd recorded it onto a cassette tape (oops, wait, gotta rub some Ben-Gay on the arthritic fingers here) because I liked the piano part more than the actual single with all the formulaic R & B singing. For some reason, my 16-year old grief addled self felt comforted by the repetitive piano part of that song. As you might guess, for that reason Tender Love has a very strong emotional connotation for me. I haven't listened to it in over 20 years.

So hearing those opening piano notes this morning out of the blue was like being t-boned by a mack truck you didn't see speeding toward you. Tears immediately started spilling from my eyes. I was a bit shocked at first. Honestly, you'd think after 22 years I'd have some distance to at least keep from crying out of the blue like that. Luckily I didn't start all out bawling - just a few hastily wiped away tears that didn't even ruin my make-up.

Just shows to go you that while you may move on, even come to terms with the loss of someone important in your life, the grief and pain never fully goes away. While I know this to be a fact, it loses its impact until the Force MDs come out of nowhere and throw that left hook into your gut.

A long time ago, in a county far far away….

Truthfully, it isn’t actually that far away, it’s about 40 miles which takes about ½ hour to 45 minutes to drive and, well, you get the picture.

When I left WCIL back in 1997 and moved to Orange County, I was hopeful and excited to be entering a new field that logically seemed as though it would always be around. No longer would I feel threatened by the State of California’s annual budget wars. Everyone would always need a house, right?

I’ve worked at three different jobs since leaving Los Angeles County. Two of them were in the mortgage industry. I left the first because it was wearing me down, body and soul. Endless hours of work, not enough help and way too little acknowledgment.

Second job was only slightly better. I was working with friends, which made it more tolerable but, for me, it was not good for my self-confidence and self-esteem to be trying so very hard to learn a job and do it well but not succeed in any fashion. For so many years, I was the queen of the Office – I knew how to do every office job and was able to do it well. Not so much with the loan processing.

It would have been better if I was able to multi-task under immense pressure but I’m not. That, in a nutshell, is what loan processing is all about. One has to keep track of innumerable details all while wheedling with underwriters to approve the loan, begging doc drawers to send out the loan docs before the borrower’s go out of the country (because what better time to travel than when you’re buying a house) and prostrating oneself to funders to please, please, please fund this loan. Then add to that the loan officers needing this, wanting you to call that person, and WHY HASN’T THE LOAN FUNDED YET!!!!! It’s an incredibly difficult job and not one that I was meant to do. This has been a very difficult realization to come to. I tried for 2 ½ years to get it right and to be completely honest, the only reason I stayed so long was this little girl:

Jaiden 08-18-07

I was working as Shannon’s assistant and after she had her baby (in May of 2006 - please see above photo) due to HIGH child care costs, The Niece would come to work with us. Trying to make it as a loan processor while helping to juggle a baby (albeit an adorable, sweet, even-tempered one) is a disaster. With the housing market imploding into oblivion and mortgage companies going under left and right, the number of loans went into a decline. This was offset, however, by all of the lending rules changing and becoming more conservative. These changes required a great deal of creativity (completely legal creativity, that is) to get loans approved and funded, which often meant submitting a loan to multiple lenders. One person could not take care of a growing baby and do this job – hell, two people had a hard time with it.

The workload got to the point where Shannon would not have needed an assistant had The Niece not been going to work with her. Had we continued to be able to close the high number of loans possible prior to the mortgage meltdown, Shannon’s income stream would have allowed for day care much sooner than it actually happened. However, mortgage rules tightened, numbers of fundings decreased, and as a result, the company we worked for was not doing so well. Add into that an owner who is not so good at managing his finances and you may see where this is all going. For much of the second half of last year, our paychecks would suffer cuts that we didn’t know about until we actually got the check. Or we wouldn’t get a check at all. There were other financially creative measures on the part of my former boss that I won’t go into but suffice it to say, I made just about as much from unemployment when I was finally laid off in December as I was getting paid the last six months of last year.

I’d been looking for a different job from about October on but I’d really shot myself in the foot by going into the mortgage industry. People didn’t want to hire someone without recent administrative assistant experience. It didn’t matter that my skills were still good or that I’d been doing much of the same office work that an administrative assistant does. It was only through a contact known by one of the loan officers I’d worked with that I was able to be signed up with a temp agency and they in turn found me my current job.

I’m only now finally getting my shit back together, both financially and in regard to my self-confidence. By no means am I out of the woods completely but I can see the tree line from here. Perhaps it’s a sad reflection on me that so much of my self-image is related to being good at what I do for a living. If that is the case, then so be it. I’m finally feeling better about me and having a steady, reliable paycheck, even if it is a wee bit smaller, is worth its weight in gold.

I’ll have to save the rest of my update for the next entry. My lunch break is almost up and I have to get back to work. It’s April and I work for an accountant – ‘nuff said.