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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Throwing Myself to the Lions

I've been pretty distracted lately and haven't been able to focus on what's really important; namely, our upcoming adventure to Tanzania.

We bit the bullet and booked our flights a few weeks ago. The plane tickets alone are taking up half our budget, and that's flying coach. Such a privilege to pay an arm and a leg to sit with our knees up our noses for 10 hours to Amsterdam, then 8 more hours to Kilimanjaro. But hey, it's part of the adventure, right? Once we get there we'll have one night in a lodge to clean up and rest a bit, then we pick up our Land Rover equipped with a roof top tent and drive off for two weeks of camping and exploring.

(Photo credit: National Geographic)
I can't tell you how many times I've been told I'll be eaten by lions. In my present state of mind, I'm kind of counting on it, to tell you the truth. Then I wouldn't have to look for a job when I get home.

I work for a small printing and mailing business. Most of you know where, but to those who don't, it doesn't really matter. It could be in any town, anywhere in the U.S., or for that matter any place in the northern hemisphere. Over the last several years business has gotten slower due to many factors: 9/11 threw many of our non-profit clients for a loop leading many to close, fear causing donors to hold on to what money they had in case the economy collapsed (which it promptly did); the internet has taken the place of a lot of bulk mail as a cheaper and more 'green' way to advertise. Over the years the post office has been raising the rates and at the same time making it more difficult and expensive to process bulk mail. In response to the downturn in business, my company got smaller and we made do with less employees right up until the last year when it came down to just two of us. We took whatever came our way, working crazy hours for weeks at a time just to have our machines sit idle the following weeks--machines that had lease payments due each month whether they were in use or not. It was like having a very stubborn flu for a year; raging temperatures followed by deep chills. After surviving months of this it finally became apparent that it was time to wrap it up; the fever took it's toll and destroyed our will to survive. The last two months were more pride and loyalty to our remaining customers than anything else.

It's hard to admit defeat. Hell, it's hard just to write about defeat.

So as sad and awful as all this has been, I am keeping in mind just how lucky I am. Mark is employed and we have always been savers, so we are not going to experience the financial hardships a lot of people in our shoes might have. (There are advantages to being a couple of pessimists--being so sure something will happen, we save for the very worst possible outcome while hoping for the best.)  In fact, I am lucky enough not to have to look for a job until after our Africa trip, which isn't until summer. I'm going to use the time between to brush up on my graphic design and database skills, do a little volunteer work, plant and maintain the garden I've always wanted (although my grand plans for that have to be reduced due to the drought) and do some of the hikes in my area that have been on my list for years. All this while not gloating about it to Mark when he gets home from work. That wouldn't be in good taste.

So I'm left with all those awful quotes that are constantly showing up on Facebook: "Things happen for a reason"; "Change is always for the best"; "Good things fall apart so better things can fall together." Sounds great when you're saying it to someone else, really sucks when people are saying it to you. I have no idea how long it will take for things to "fall together," but until then I am determined to have a good time. Why waste precious hours worrying about it when I could be outside enjoying the fact that I'm still alive, not starving, with a roof over my head and a couple of knuckle-headed dogs to talk to?

Those dogs are going to be so ready for me to go back to work.

Maybe I'll create memes for a living. That ought to pay really well.

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