Hard Boiled Art

To whom it may concern: I am done. My curiosity has been satisfied. Thank you for the opportunity to rack my brain again. ~ just another crazy bus woman.

I feel like I did when I sat by the fountain at Kent State University after withdrawing from my classes oh so many years ago.   I had 105 credit hours towards a BS degree in Engineering Technology, with a core GPA of 4.0 and an 3.84 GPA overall.  I had graduated the year before with an AS degree in Electrical/Electronic & Related Engineering Technology.

I choose the EERT program because I needed employable job skills and I needed them fast, something that would pay more than min. wage.    The era was Reaganomics and we were living in the dirt beneath the social/economic ladder in Columbiana County, which is part of the Appalachian Ohio region.   I did not feel like I had the option to dream or I would have chosen something else, like art or architecture.  I did manage to squeeze in a few studio art classes and, after a boyfriend took me and my daughter to Chuck-E-Cheese, I began to dream of combining art with engineering.  Okay,  I fell in love with that stuffed animal lion that moved and sang like Elvis.

As it was, I transferred up to the main campus in Kent after graduation and started looking for work in the area.  I signed up for day classes thinking that I was going to be hired in at the Land O’Lakes butter factory on afternoon shift before the end of the semester.  No,  I got hired on day shift.  So I had to decide between dropping out of my classes or saying no to the job.  It was an easy choice.  I wanted out of poverty before my daughter was old enough to realize how poor we were.   If you ever stood in a store while your little girl stares at an expensive doll with awe and says, “oh mommy look” when the only doll you could afford was some old thing from the Goodwill store on half-price day and then you had to give it a bath and a haircut and dress it up with handmade clothes from fabric reclaimed from cutting up your own clothes so you could tuck it under a sad-looking Christmas tree as a special gift “from the land of mis-fit toys” and oh look, Santa brought you an outfit to match, then it is not the kind of choice that a mother thinks twice about.   I sat there at that fountain feeling like I was done.  I had reached the point where it was time to stop preparing for the future and start living it.

Two jobs later, I was an apprentice Tool & Die Maker at Delphi Packard Electric and living in Warren, Ohio.   It was an intensive program and just getting in the door was like hitting the job lottery.   Out of thousands that applied, only a handful was selected on a point system based on test scores and interviews.  They picked the best to be trained by the best to be the best and the GM/Delphi program was far more intense and included more training than anywhere else around.  In the same time frame as a traditional apprenticeship, we were trained on all of the latest high-tech CNC and such, and needed to work at tighter tolerances than the average job shop at the time, often within 0.0001″ (1/10,000 of an inch).  The first thing we learned was “A = Average” and the game was do it or out.  The stress level in the apprentice toolroom was unnecessary.   Later, I realized that the main purpose of riding us so hard was to put us through so much crap that we would never take crap off of anyone else again, least of all, a stupidviser.  My class was the first class in the history of the apprenticeship program that flat-out refused to honor our trainers with a booze and food party to celebrate our pounding in to Journeyman status.

Straight up, I was damn good at what I did, but I wasn’t good at everything.  I could grind with the best, drop a wheel down to kiss an angle, hit the mark right on the line.  I could – and have – roll a ball radius on a belt sander for a non-critical pin, hit the dims to 3 places and laugh.  My engineering background, the training of how to solve problems, combined with my skills and experience made me, as an old friend from college once quipped, “one scary employable bitch.”   When Delphi went down, my thought was “have skills, can relocate” but of course, that was Before.  And now it is After.

In-between is where I lost everything.  I could write one of those “I am the 99%” things, if I could align myself with the occupy movement.  In-between was a life storm that spun off three “tornadoes” and each cut a path of destruction through one area of my life.  I went down emotionally, financially, and physically within a short time frame.   I could have recovered, that “have skills can relocate”  if it wasn’t for that last tornado, the one that left me disabled.

In the Before, I thought my life was set.  I was at the end of my career path, believed that I would continue to do the work I enjoyed until I retired from Delphi, and enjoy my art and hobbies on the side.  I purchased my first home, a little cottage surrounded with flower beds, and enjoyed spending occasional evening on the back patio with a man I loved.  I traded in my car for a last year’s model (not exactly brand new) and life was good.  I thought I had it made… this was my American Dream.

In the After, I am a crazy bus woman living in a cheap apartment on the south side of Youngstown who has taken up the colored pencils because I can’t even make the art I want to make anymore.  Yesterday, I tried to hold my grandson and his mother had to take him from my arms because he slipped a bit and I could not slide him back up.  I could not lift this ten pound itty bitty baby to hand him off to his mother.  I used to slide die shoes off to the edge of the work table just far enough to lift and up she goes without the use of a crane.   Am I crying whaa, woe is me?  NO.  This is not complaining.  It is just how it is.

Oh, I may be jaded by my life experiences, but I am not bitter nor do I wallow in self-pity.  Why should I?  It is a “Tra la la la la bomba dear” to quote Blues Traveler’s Runaround (oh yeah, an old favorite) because I’m still here breathing on this planet.  Life storms come and life storms go… and life goes on.

I wanted to write about all this because of that hard-boiled egg.  I was looking for the yolk because it was an unknown variable.  Have you ever watched engineers when they see one little typo?  One decimal point in the wrong place and suddenly, an entire drawing set is under scrutiny, every number suspect.

Without being paranoid, I may have got “tagged” searching the internet for answers to questions that I did not know how to phrase.  My yahoo email feels held, if that makes sense.   I have multiple email addy’s dropped into one box (kind of like pre-sorting it) so email typically arrives randomly throughout the day.  Suddenly, it is like whoa, no email.  Hours pass.  The gaps of no mail were long enough to catch my attention.  Sometimes I read messages on websites long before a notification of the message arrived in my email inbox.  So far, the longest gap has been about 12 hours with no email.   Then McAfee missed catching a trojan upon entry like whoa… that’s a first.  Should I mention tracking cookies?  I’ve been running back-to-back scans, first with McAfee (included with my ISP) and then with a little known software program recommended by a geek, which has found over 200 tracking cookies that McAfee either missed or purposely ignored.  Oh well.  Everything we do on these machines is constantly monitored anyway.

Enough, I suppose.  Or way too much.  I’d be surprised if anyone reads all the way to the bottom of this.  If you did, odds are that you need a cup of coffee or a stiff drink, maybe a potty break?  One thing for sure, I need to catch some zzz’s.  If there are any typos or spelling errors, I’ll fix them tomorrow.  And if I wake up embarrassed for yakking too much, I shall come back and edit this down.

Thank you for viewing my art and taking the time to read my rambles.


11 Responses

  1. Excellent voice on this one: bold, blunt, and honest (even if you didn’t major in english.)

  2. WOW. You are an amazing person!

    • Thank you… but I don’t feel that amazing. I think each of us have a tale to tell as it is rare to meet anyone over 50 who hasn’t survived or endured something.

  3. Wow…you had a hard road there! Awesome GPA, I am envious…I don’t know much of the terminology of an engineer but I caught the main drift of what you were trying to say…I admire your perseverance and your outlook!

    • Thanks Sharon! The grades came because I studied as if our lives depended on it. Most people who know me don’t know everything, like no one who has met me in the After knows anything about my Before and people who met me when I had a good income had no idea of how hard I worked to get there.

      I felt like I needed to write this because it lets people know that the reasons I cannot align myself with the occupy movement is not because I don’t understand Main Street concerns about the economy or other things that lure people into supporting ows, but then again, perhaps I needed to write it for my own self, too.

  4. I have read this several times, and I don’t understand why you don’t align yourself with the occupy movement. Not to say you should or ought to, I just havent been able to figure out the reasons and I am curious.

    • I wanted to support ows after watching what looked like police using a bridge as a box canyon to round up a herd of protesters so when I heard that an occupy group was forming in Youngstown, I asked questions. The answers were too smooth, too neatly packaged. I felt deception – not so much that I was being lied to, more like something was hidden.

      Straight up, I cannot align myself with ANY organization when I don’t know exactly where they stand. I have a problem with a well organized “leaderless” movement that needs to build up a huge following before defining (revealing?) clear goals and objectives. I may agree with some of the things some protesters voice… but I do not agree with everything and cannot agree with the methods. I believe change can be rendered at the ballot box, that we don’t need a bloody revolution to overthrow our government.

      Well, that’s it in a nutshell. 😀

  5. Oh! Thank you so much for clarifying this for me, Nancy! I was SO curious! I really appreciate that you took the time to answer me!

  6. First – thank you for taking time to visit art rat cafe and for ‘liking’ my face drawings. Being a Leo artist I work for an audience and am over the moon when someone appreciates my art. You might like to check out my ‘Card’ series as, like you, I made them ATC size – one a day for 39 days.
    I did make it to the bottom of the page (rare for me with long blog missives) and, yes, I do need a “stiff drink” followed by the inevitable “potty break”. Wow – what a life story – I admire your tenacity and work ethic. After your engineering experiences I understand why you want to flow into visual art. I really like your boiled egg drawing and am looking forward to exploring your site to see what else you’ve been up to.

    • Thank you John, I appreciate your kind words and thankfully, I’m not always so long winded. Oh gosh, I love your face paintings. I’ll be over in a minute to check out your card series. 😀


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