Friday, April 4, 2008

Long Ago and Far Away...

Sounds almost like a fairy tale, doesn't it?

I worked for the city of Chehalis, Washington for over 25 years. 20 of those were spent as City Clerk/Finance Director. I like working in municipal service. The population was only 7,000, our citizens could talk directly to us and we could not only listen to them personally, but often do something for them.

I took my job seriously, worked on cost cuts, efficiency, and overall financial management of a budget that grew to over $50 million dollars in time. I believed we were there to serve the people and that we were a form of guardian that watched over the public funds and made wise use of our resources and helped the citizenry as and how we could.

My first two city managers were in agreement with this. But the last one I had was politically oriented. He wanted to please the council. He seemed to lose focus of the fact that we were there being paid by tax dollars collected from our citizens. He was hired by the council and their needs were what mattered to him. Soon we had less money, cronyism and favoritism where taking the day, and common sense and good business sense had gone out the door.

On top of this, my health was getting worse and worse. Some of it was stress. Most of it was the weather and the pollen and mold. I have extreme allergies. All I breath and all I eat affect me. I once asking my allergist what I could do help the situation. He said stop breathing. Uh, not an option...

I went to the hospital dietitian to see if she could help me find a rotation diet so I ate things that bothered me every three or four days instead of all the time. She told me it was hopeless, I was allergic to too much.

So I took my shots, my pills, my inhaler and my Prozac and hoped for better times.

Between being sick all the time (I had bronchitis 7 times the last year I was there) and having my boss work on my personal integrity and beliefs brought me to the edge - the next thing that was going to happen was a heart attack. He wouldn't even let me write my own agenda reports, he changed them to say what HE wanted them to say. So I refused to write them, and he did them with his name. I had to get out of there.

I had been selling books on eBay for a while and had joined a bookdealer's mailing list. While there, I chatted a with a fella who had a bricks and mortar store in Las Cruces, New Mexico and who was looking for a partner. I flew down, checked it out, and went back and resigned my job.

My husband was flabbergasted, couldn't believe I'd move 2,000 miles away and start a new life. At that point, I told him I didn't care if he came or not. Unhappiness affects all parts of your life, you see.

At the end of December in 1999, I packed up my computer, some clothes, some household goods, and moved into a one bedroom apartment here in Las Cruces. Hubby came with me and then flew back home to sell the house. He was still unsure about the move, but he knew if he was going to stay married to me, he had no real choice.

So, here I was. It's just going into the year 2000 and I'm 2,000 miles away from home. Life is good, right?

The city job started good, and then sucked at the end. Selling books turned into a disaster at the beginning and gotten continually better.

I'll tell you about my "new beginning" in my next blog entry.

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