Sandy Barnes’ 26-Minute Memoir

Sandy Barnes 26 minutes

Self portrait

I’m 58 years old.  Married 34 years.  To the same man.  Live outside of Seattle Washington.  Have 4 kids.  They’se all adults but not emancipated, you know?  Generally they’re ok .  Susanna, the most difficult lives with us right now but she’s been on her best behavior.

Not working currently.  Don’t know if I will.  One of my biggest disappointments in myself is my lack of a career.  I spent the last 14 years working for SSRN (Social Science Research Network).  And, though I was a true believer and one of their first employees, it all ended rather badly a little over a year ago.  Can’t really figure out if it was the economy or ME.  It was both.  All I can figure out is that they got tired of the problems that I brought up.  Instead of facing thep roblems, it was eaiser to blame me.  Which they did.  A lot.  I’ve never lost a job before like that and it still hurts.  I’m having a hard time letting go of it.  I keep telling myself that they’ve moved on and so should I.  14 years, though, that’s a lot of time to invest in a job.

About a year ago, my mother died, just really coming to grips with all that.  In fact, yesterday was the first anniversary.  In Judaism, you mark the anniversaries of a death.  Though I didn’t do that for the death of my father, I did want to do it for my mom.  So Dennis and I went to services last Friday.  For Yahrtzeit.  At my request, they read out my mom’s name at the Kaddush prayer.  I asked Dennis to go.  I knew he would grumble about it but he would go.  And that’s how it was.

The loss of my job and my mother’s death happened at about the same time.  A big change time.  I inherited my share of my parent’s and grandparent’s money.  Should be 1.7M.  On top of about .5 M we already had.  I’ve received about 2/3 of it.  So when we all sat down, our financial people suggested that, since Dennis was still working (making about 83K) and we had all this money, did it really make sense for me to work.  I didn’t have to work.  I could be ‘retired’.  I asked Dennis how he felt about him working and me not.  He seemed fine with it.  But it brought me up short.  What?  I was still trying to figure out what I was going to do when I grew up and now it was over???  Like over??  Like I missed the boat somewhere?  Still not sure what I think about that.

But, look around, what kind of job would I get.  I wasn’t making that much (from home) from SSRN, $18/hr though I regularly got pounded that I was making one of the highest rates in the company.  Geesh.  I would be lucky to get $10/hr.

So, in retirement, we should return to what we wanted to do.  Before we got interrupted by kids and jobs and other adult obligations.  I wanted to read and write.  So that’s what I’m doing.  Not particularly publish but read and write.  So I am.  Also, for community service, I really like the work I do with the Changes Parent Group and I  have a great opportunity to do the parts I enjoy, be in charge of the chapter meetings and serve on teams.  Really I like it.  And I know it help others.

Very odd though.  All my adult life, I’ve had a jiillion kid s (ok, really just 4) or a full time job and usually both.  My time has been completely constrained.  Take a class?  For me?  Extreeeeeemely unlikely.  Start reading books.  Not likely.

But now I’ve started and I quite like it.  I’ve been writing this blog for 3 1/2 years and it still seems vibrant to me.

My premise:  Does a middle aged overweight woman living north of Seattle have interesting to say.  Does she have anything interesting in her life?  Any stories to tell?

Of course.  My gimmick is that I always post a picture. that goes with the little piece.

I don’t see why everybody doesn’t do it.  Don’t we all have tons of pictures in our house, one our computer?  I have a camera, there’s lots of things going around me all the time.  Sometimes I write about what’s on my mind and find a picture to go with it.  How many pictures on the internet are available for theft?  Get the picture?  Or many?

MMMM….other than that.  I do things with my sibs.  They are different from me but the same.  Younger brother and sister.  In fact we went to Hawaii together, just the three of us a few months ago.  And it was fun!  And fine!

I’ve always considered myself on analytic left brain person but, as I go along, I’m changing my mind.  I used to say that I was a left brain person with a right brain lifestyle.  But sometimes, I lose sight of that left brain part.  Like it’s not as important any more.  Maybe that’s where I thought the ‘do good in school’ kind of intelligence that I had was.  But, it seems to be flying away.  Or maybe never there in the first place.

And my kids???  Danny 28, Susanna 26, Ilana 24 Naomi 21.  It’s a lot, I know.  Two infant placements from Korea then two spectacularly unplanned pregnancies.

Why don’t I have a career?  I asked myself that some time ago and the answer I came up with was “Too many kids and not enough confidence).  So rather go out and fight it all out now, I sort of feel like I’m channeling my mother, who didn’t work outside the home in a more traditional setting.  What’s around me.  What is it that I need to do?  As always, it’s usually nor corporeal, it’s all in my head, it all waits to be revealed.  Over time.  There’s still a direction and a purpose.

I love taking this class (Memoir writing) by the way.  I never would have a chance to do something like this so I’m seizing the day.  Maybe like my daughter Ilana who is in a master’s program in archiving/library science at the University of Michigan, take advantage of absolutely everything you can.  Take all of it.  Get all the experience in jobs and classes and internships.  That’s what she does and that’s what I shall do too.

And spend time with my 10 year old granddaughter, I’ve done that too since I’ve lost my job.  That’s been great fun, I just knew I wanted to do that.

So off I go seeing what else there is for me out there on the horizon.  And the 26 minutes are up right now.  Serious, the alarm went off just as I typed that period!!!

About Theo Pauline Nestor

Author of Writing Is My Drink (Simon & Schuster) and How to Sleep Alone in a King-Size Bed. Learn more about my courses, editing, and coaching at
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