Recession Mama

{September 29, 2009}   Broke Girl Frame of Mind

By Heather

I was digging through some papers this week and found a poem that I wrote back in 1996. It’s on a torn piece of notebook paper. Just something I scribbled down one night following a frustrating day of looking for a job.  I’ve kept it tucked inside my green folder with some of my other “thoughts” and stories. I’m not sure why I still have it. I  just don’t throw that kinda stuff away. (not a pack rat, just sentimental)

The “thought” or poem really gives one a sense of my “broke girl” frame of mind. I was just moving along in slow motion, trying to keep a positive attitude. But it was hard. I was failing miserably at being a “success” and accomplishing simple tasks. Even brushing my teeth felt like a major chore.

I was just tired of searching for a job. Tired of having all of the wrong qualifications. Tired of being jerked around.

I’m pretty sure this was around the time I answered an ad for a “public relations” position. I was excited to get an interview. I went into the office and discovered over 50 other people in the room.

Great! A group interview. I hate these. But I’ve been through them before. Better shine!

No such luck. Turned out they wanted me to sell vitamins, water filters and other health crap that nobody wants.

Whoa! Pyramid scheme. I gotta get out of here.

I rushed to the door and was stopped by a very tall guy who refused to let me out. The conversation, to the best of my recollection, went down like this.

“You can’t leave in the middle of the presentation”

“I’m not doing a pyramid scheme. I thought this was a PR job.”

“No but it’s a great opportunity. Really you should sit back down. You’re really not allowed to leave.”

“Either you let me out of here or I’m calling the police and telling them that you are holding me hostage.”

He got out of my way and I went home and sobbed.

So why share this now? Especially when it was so long ago.  It just feels right. I GET IT! It’s not easy searching for a job or learning a new skill in a crap economy. Once you’ve been in this position, you can never forget.

I don’t have any great “Dear Abby” advice or pearls of wisdom here. All I know is that when you’re on the bottom there’s no place to go but up. That’s what always kept me going when the going got tough. You’ll be reminiscing about the “bad times” soon enough. Now I’m going to torture you with one of mine.




Shoestring remedies and dime store anecdotes

A handful of full of change and a hole in your pocket.


Telephone rings and you wish you hadn’t answered

One more letter and it won’t ring at all.


Looking at the want ads cuddled up in a blanket

Turned on the heat, but it only blows cold.


One more day and you’re back where you started

Two more days and your start is long gone.


Deep dark thoughts, scratch it down on some paper

A whole idea once was great now it’s gone.


Brush in time with your voice a humming

Head down lights out you’re dreaming perfect songs.




{May 4, 2009}   The Old Grey Mare

By: Heather B.

Well mamas and papas I’m pooped, dog tired, beat down and like the saying about horses goes: “I’ve been rode hard and put up wet.” (get your minds out of the gutters)


Seriously, this is what a real recession mama looks like after a day of child rearing, negotiating, renovating and errand running.

And no… that’s not the glow of something angelic behind me… that’s just junk I need to put away. But that’ll have to wait.

First I need to tell you about “The Old Grey Mare.” It’s just a goofy folk song that my dad used to sing.  I found a guy singing this song on YouTube. It’s pretty entertaining so check it out.

 “The Old Grey Mare. She ain’t what she used ta be. Many long years ago.” 

I’ve always interpreted it this way: A horse who used to have some giddy-up and go but doesn’t like to stray from the barn anymore.

I’ve got that silly song stuck in my head for some reason. I think it just explains my mood. It “used ta be” that I could get up early, run all day, stay up late, and do it all again. But this Old Grey Mare ain’t what she used to be.

 I can pull off that routine about two or three nights a week and then I just fizzle out. I get that glazed donut look and I  literally feel like I’m swaying on a boat.  Sometimes I actually wish that I could go head first into my food and chew and sleep at the same time.

Coffee and chocolate usually pull me out of the funk. (for a little while) But I think my reserve battery is finally running low and I really need to rest and recharge. (I need Yoga class!)

 I’m going to blame my recession renovation. It’s finally taking its toll(see post “Recession Rubble in the Bubble” for further explanation.)

A very long discussion about  light fixtures, bathtubs and showers … plus a “closet” shopping trip to Ikea has me begging for a really long nap.


Sidebar here:

I really think Ikea is both wonderful and  insane!  Where else can you walk through a labyrinth of kitchen counters, closets, couches, dishes, rugs and frozen meatballs.Yes! Frozen Swedish meatballs and big bars of  Choklad Mork (dark chocolate) are sitting at the check out counter. Why? Because apparently it all goes together so well. (in some-body’s mind)

I can't resist dark chocolate!

I can’t resist dark chocolate!

My late night-early morning routine goes together about as well as those frozen meatballs and chocolate bars. Yes… I’m covering a lot of ground, but it’s a little questionable.  And it could come back haunt me. I’ve already noticed some new wrinkles forming around my eyes and new coffee stains on my teeth. (note to self: speed dial the dentist, buy industrial wrinkle cream)

So, sorry mamas and papas I just don’t have any profound words of wisdom, compelling stories or ideas to share with you today.  Maybe next time. Right now this Old Grey Mare needs to polish off an Ikea chocolate bar, take herself to the barn and hit the hay. A shower wouldn’t hurt either.


{April 7, 2009}   Tired Broke

Mamas and papas (thanks Craig!) I’m not sure where to start but I feel I must share what being broke and sick of the job search means to me. It’s absolute EXHAUSTION. There have been times when I wasn’t sure how everything was going to work out. But I kept the faith and just kept going. I would always tell myself  “Keep moving, keep trying, keep the faith. It will pass. It will change. It can’t last forever.” It did pass. It did change. But it would take a long time.

During one of my longest struggles I scribbled in my trusty note book the following words. I’ve kept them for a long time. I’ve never known what to do with them. But it feels right to share them now. (interpret them how you want) 

“Exhaustion drapes over me like an old overcoat, tattered and torn I’ve got my strap stuck in the door. Twisting and pulling and crushing my bones. One more step… I can”t find the courage. ”

For a while, I had just about given up on finding security. I know it sounds dramatic. But honestly when you are on your own, you’re on your own. It’s frightening and exhausting. I never thought that my life could be so good because I struggled so long. But it is. 

Financially, I’m not struggling now. But once you’ve been broke you can never forget. And right now my survival instincts have kicked in. It doesn’t matter how much money is in the bank. I’ll always worry. I just can’t help it. 

I am cutting back. Sure, I could do more. But I can’t FIRE the people that depend on me for their livelihood. I just can’t. I’ll give up a few things to keep them employed.

Yes. Right now I may live in a wonderful neighborhood, drive a nice car, and have beautiful things. But that doesn’t make me immune to the economy. I think about it everyday. And right now my former “broke” self is whispering little lessons in my ear. I hope you will listen to them in the weeks ahead. Some are sad… most are funny. I’m sure you can relate. 


et cetera