Sunday, June 29, 2014

What a long, strange month it's been


First, thanks to those who read my last post, which was kind of long, but hopefully not boring. I just wanted to get that story written down, especially after I found the news articles about La Professoressa. It was all true, and no, I'm not going to put in a link to the news stories because I think it's best if I don't reveal her name!

Second, if I haven't been around to visit your blogs, I apologize. Who knew being unemployed would be so time-consuming? Besides registering for Unemployment Insurance, and Job Search, and checking out health insurance, and applying for jobs, I've also been dealing with long-distance family stuff, and looking at options and possibilities to go freelance with editing/proofreading/writing. I feel pulled in a lot of directions at the moment! I need lists, lists, lists or I'll never survive!

For now though, I'm posting my Scavenger Hunt photos, plus hanging out with some of my other favorite link-ups (because I aim to be efficient). So without any further ado and in no particular order, here we go!

10AM
This is the good side of unemployment - totally casual.


Linking this up with Visible Monday (I was visible riding my bike to run errands) and 52 Pick-me-up, where the theme is Minimalism.

B is for BEACH
I got a few pictures on my last outing.



HABITAT



WATER (too easy, really) 



MANMADE




CALM



OPEN
I used this photo in the last Scavenger Hunt and once before that, so it also fulfills the prompt  
YOU AGAIN!



SPOON
A gift from my brother- and sister-in-law. On the back it says C. Boyes, S. Africa.




STEAM
Making my latte in the morning - and taking a picture at the same time.



SOCCER
The best I could do was take a picture of the TV in the lead up to the World Cup. 



PUPPET
We bought this to use as a prop when my husband recorded some readings of one of his books. You can see part of the puppet in this video (viewer discretion is advised), and there's a gadget on my sidebar that should take you to The Prisoner's Tale on Amazon.


Does he make you nervous? I don't like being alone with this guy. And he's been drinking the expensive vodka!

Come and check out the link-ups - the laundry can wait.

Val

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

La Professoressa



How much would you put up with to have a dream job? Would you work in a tiny cubicle without windows, take a cut in pay, move to a strange town? Would you work for a crazy person? Would you be her close, personal assistant if it meant you had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?



I was studying in Rome, my last quarter before I completed my Bachelors degree (at the age of 32). My field was Art History and I spoke Italian, so, yeah, I was up for new experiences and a job, and would definitely be interested in staying in Rome. Then I met La Professoressa.

It started with Caravaggio, the bad boy of Italian Baroque painting. While I was in Rome I wanted to see as many of his paintings as I could. It's not hard - they're in churches and museums all over the city. But one of his big ones, Deposition from the Cross, was in a part of the Vatican Museums that was closed.




Most of my fellow students were Classicists and were indifferent to the Baroque art and architecture of Rome, but Karen shared my interest. The two of us were walking towards the Campo dei Fiori and talking about how disappointed we were to not be able to see this one painting because that part of the museum was in restauro. A woman ahead of us whipped around to look at us and said, in a British accent, "I can get you in to see it!"

She was middle-aged and hyperactive. Her graying hair was pulled back into a classic ponytail. She had large, round glasses, orange lipstick, and a leopard-print jacket. Her accent was what I later learned to describe as "posh." She spoke in an animated manner and explained that she was an art historian who lived in Rome, and she was working on a project photographing ceiling murals. She introduced her extremely meek daughter, who I hadn't even noticed and who was carrying the camera equipment. La Professoressa chatted excitedly for awhile, and we made plans to meet soon.



I really can't remember the sequence of events, and the minor details are unimportant. But over the course of the next few weeks I saw her four or five times. She was generous - she took Karen and I out to see some sights and also got us invited to a reception for Roy Lichtenstein at the American Academy in Rome. She took me along when she and her daughter went to photograph a mural at a private palazzo, and another time I had lunch with her at a tiny local ristorante where there was no sign on the door, and we were led into the kitchen to see what they were cooking that day.

La Professoressa was fluent in Italian, and seemed to create a whirlwind wherever she went. When she spoke her arms waved wildly and foamy spittle collected at the sides of her mouth.



I came to learn she had been born in Malay to British ex-pats, and claimed to have stabbed to death a man who raped her during the war when she was nine years old. She had studied at the Sorbonne, or else the Sorbonne had financed her current project. Her quiet daughter was her eldest and, I believe, the only one who still spoke to her. Another daughter had allegedly performed a sex act with an animal for a porn video, which she sent to her mother for spite.



The last time I saw her, I had been invited along with another student, Tyler, to join her on a tour of the Quirinale Palace, the official home of the Italian president. There were others in the group - American Army officers and their families who were recently posted to Rome - and La Professoressa wanted us along to soften them up. She was hoping to get American financing for her research.

Tyler and I went to her apartment before going to the Quirinale, and she looked over what we were wearing to see if we would make a good impression on the military men. She asked Tyler to remove his earring, which he refused to do. All this time she was also talking about the work I would do for her if I stayed in Rome - her daughter wanted to return to England, and La Professoressa needed an assistant. She implied that I would eventually acquire the photographs if I worked for her. I would catalog them, and help carry the cameras and film and tripod on shoots. I would make sure she got the pictures she needed, and that she wouldn't forget to eat. I would help her get home at night after a long day on her feet - and put her to bed!

While she was chattering, she was trying to get me to wear some jewelry of hers, a choker that she was going to let me borrow. I already knew I didn't want to see her again. Tyler and I were going to make our excuses and leave after the tour, and I did not intend to return to La Professoressa's apartment to return the choker. I demurred on the jewelry, and I told her that I appreciated all she had done for me, but I also did not want to work for her. She sputtered about how it was a wonderful opportunity, and why didn't I want to take it? I said, "Because I don't want to wear the choker."

There was silence. But she knew what I meant. She was cool to us during the tour, while she turned her charm on the officers and their wives. After we left the Quirinale, Tyler and I had a peaceful afternoon in Rome, and I never saw La Professoressa again.



But a few weeks ago I was curious. I wanted to find out if she had ever published her photographs - or anything, for that matter. The only references I found to her on Google were old news stories about a court case in Britain a couple of years before I met her. Her husband's family was quite wealthy, and her father-in-law had left a certain amount of money to each of his adult grandchildren. To spite her own children, she claimed that her younger three were not the offspring of her husband and did not have a right to the inheritance. She said they had been fathered by three different men! The judge more or less threw the case out, saying the children had been accepted as part of the family for their entire lives.

You can't make this stuff up, folks!

She never got me in to see Deposition from the Cross, but I did see it on another trip. And I tell you now, I have never regretted walking away from that "dream" job.

Val

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Sneetches - T3



The prompt for T3 – Favorite Childhood Read –
Had me thinking and blinking,
Oh, what shall it be?

I quite liked the mysteries of Mary C. Jane,
Curious George was a fave, but maybe inane.
Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins, Hardy Boys all compete,
But one book was always my favorite treat.
The book that I knew that I just had to do

There were Sneetches and stars and Mrs. McCave,
And Zax and Green Pants and twenty-three Daves,
There were morals and lessons I learned by osmosis,
And laughter that shook me right down to my toes-es.

Dr. Seuss was a genius with his rhymes and his hooks,
Kids are happy for hours while reading his books.
Pages worn and torn from reading and use,
My choice for T3 will be Dr. Seuss!



The story of the Sneetches tells us about the snobby star-bellied Sneetches who had bellies with stars, and the plain-bellied Sneetches who had none upon thars. 


So I'm being a star-bellied Sneetch, using a Christmas ornament for my star, and showing it off proudly!

The plain-bellied Sneetches always felt like second-class citizens, until a stranger came to town and offered to give them stars on their bellies. Well, the star-bellied Sneetches didn't like that, so they decided to have their stars taken off, and that would be the best style! Eventually no one could remember who really had stars and who didn't, and they all learned to get along and be happy the way they were.

See, a lesson I learned by osmosis.


The Sneetches were all yellow with green stars, so I'm wearing yellow jeans (with paler yellow zipper!) and shoes, thrifted, and the green top is part of a twin set and matches the cardi you saw last week here.

Come over and join the T3 book club at My Closet Catalogue and A Bibliophile's Style!

Val

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

I'm not going to give you some saccharine phrases about attitude or inspirational photos of a tropical beach at sunset and a smug, but perfectly coiffed model staring at the horizon.

I'm going to give you this.



Friday the 13th was my first day unemployed - a very lucky day indeed - so I went to the beach.

The weather was completely different from when I was there three weeks ago with Anne, but I had the same scarf and, surprisingly, the same nail polish!


The beach had been completely rearranged, with rolling sand berms and driftwood everywhere. I imagine the same weather conditions that fed Hurricane Cristina had something to do with this. We had strong winds 50 miles inland the other day, and it was obvious the beach got a spanking.


Except for the Corps of Engineers ship going in and out of the river entrance, I had the place almost to myself.


I walked, I ate a picnic lunch, I wrote in the sand and talked to myself - loudly. I walked in the cold water as long as I could and let the waves chase me in and out. I took a lot of photos for the next Scavenger Hunt, and I kind of just played.

I didn't see another human being for over an hour!



For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), it’s always our self we find in the sea. e.e. cummings


Val

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I watch the ripples change their size

Ladies, thank you so much for all your wonderful comments! Since I found out I lost my job my mind has been elsewhere, and I haven't been consistent with reading and commenting on blogs, but I appreciate all your thoughts and support.

Turns out I wasn't completely finished with work - I'm working some days this week to make the transition smoother. Hah! It's not smoother for me. I went from euphoria last week to limbo and lethargy this week. Can't wait until the break is clean and complete and I can really relax (an abundance of alliteration there!). Oh, and try to make a living.

I've missed a lot of my favorite link-ups lately, so this outfit will make up for lost time.

Today - 52 Pick-me-up - '60s
Friday - Secondhand First 
Sunday -Visible Monday

Here's my pseudo-'60s, secondhand and visible outfit. I'm sort of like Shelley Fabares meets Susan Dey.


Not exactly bell bottoms, but flared dungarees, along with a top tied at the waist and a button-up cardi thrown over my shoulders. The top, belt and jeans are thrifted; the cardi is Target and the sandals Clarks, and they're both at least five years old.


The top has a sort of mod pattern, and colors like 1960s kitchen appliances - avocado green, coppertone, and almond.


And I'm wearing my locket, previously seen here, which is from the '60s.


Hey, if you didn't already know, Joni James is doing a new blog! Check it out - An Artful Closet.

Thanks again for your lovely comments. Be sure to visit and join the link-ups!

Val


Friday, June 6, 2014

June 1974, June 2014 - Brave New World



Forty years ago I graduated from high school. I was set free to go out into the world and shape myself.


Four days ago I was laid off from my job. Today's my last day.

I had a completely different post prepared to mark my graduation anniversary, talking about regrets and the road not taken. There was also a bit of a rant about my job and being stuck in a 40-hour-a-week prison. It wasn't a bad job, but after eight years the routine and constraints were wearing me down - a lot. And don't get me started on the colleagues that, as I've said before, had the social skills of a spatula.

When I was told I was laid off, I didn't want to believe it. It seemed too good to be true! Then, of course, worry, anxiety, fear. My head is spinning thinking of the ramifications for medical insurance (yeah, the US system sucks) and pensions. We won't be destitute - for a while - but I can't assume I can afford to buy things. I do have to find work, and I'll be nervous starting something new. And there are some people that I'll miss seeing every day.

But I'm cautiously euphoric - I have a chance to do something better!


I may have to keep working past retirement age, but I want to enjoy what I do. Ideas are flying, and I'm going to have some time to breathe and think and sew and glue things and write and sleep in and see where it all takes me.

It's a brave new world!

Val