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This is excerpted from the Women's Work as Artists and Writers blog, where you can read essays from many other women.
1934, Baltimore, MD
Someone was knocking on the door.
Then seven years old, Nancy was folding clean diapers for her mother, but her father grabbed her arm and shoved her into the closet. Her father warned,“Get in there and be quiet!”
He then calmly proceeded to open the front door and chat with the local truant officer. The officer’s eyes narrowed as he said, “We heard you have a school-age child? She should be attending school. That’s the law.” Nancy’s father invited the officer to look around the house. Only small children were playing in the backyard, all too young to go to school.
While Nancy should have been going to school, she was held back so she could help take care of her younger siblings. She was not allowed to attend school until her brother, a year and a half younger, was old enough to go to school. By that time, it would be useful to have her walk with him as her parents cared about educating him, but not her.
Nancy was my mother, a talented visual artist and a wonderful storyteller.
Before the pandemic, I enjoyed a trip to exotic Pasadena, CA, where I met up with my jetsetting daughter Vanessa Pan (in LA for work). As an experiment, I took Megabus (cheap and fast) with no regrets. A trip to Los Angeles without a car? Yep. We used the subway and when needed took Lyft or Uber. Our favorite activity was visiting the Huntington Gardens and Museums.
Post pandemic, my former 4-day at home job became a 5-day at home job. My team was global so Zoom was already our best friend and now we commiserated over the restrictions and swapped stories on who got COVID and how. Many of my colleagues suffered with it as well as neighbors. Peter’s still sanitizing our groceries though I tend to think that’s overkill. When in public, we mask up and sometimes goggle up to protect the eyes. I’ve shared this blog on Facebook on how to avoid the risks of getting COVID.
You may have noticed I write about work in the past tense. On Feb. 5, 2021, I retired from Oracle as a senior manager of information development (tech pubs) with 4 different Zoom goodbyes. My generous coworkers sent a big chocolate cake to my home as well as party decorations and a large gift certificate to my favorite bookstore, reachandteach.com.
It was hard saying bye to all my warm, funny and gifted coworkers, but not too hard to give up 7 am PST meetings! I also got to leave with a bang as I lead a hackathon team (the Blind Moles) during my last few months. Our project won the People’s Choice award within Oracle. I must say it was a brilliant idea (blind or non-biased recruiting), which I hope Oracle will implement internally and which it’s offering as a feature of its Oracle Recruiting Cloud product. See the video we created with advice from resident video expert, Joshua.
My children’s book, Women and the Right to Vote, part of Scholastic’s True Book series came out in Sept 2020, right in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment. If you have any ideas on groups I could speak to, let me know.
Joshua graduated from high school last year and is studying online at Foothill College as a first year student in computer science. Peter doesn’t miss driving him to the campus, but Josh misses the in-person interaction. In his spare time, Josh flies drones, does animation, and posts his original videos to YouTube. If you want his channel, text him at 650.815.8793. He’s even making a steady income from it. He’s also coding his own video game and has regular Virtual Reality (VR) chats with friends in Japan.These gen Zs!
Vanessa has been busy fixing up her new flat in Guadalajara, MX and working for maxablespace.com. She’s even installed a climbing wall in her home! She’s thinking of becoming a business or life coach, but in the meantime she manages Maxable’s partners as well as some staff members. And she still enjoys composing and singing.
Pre-pandemic, Peter was driving Josh to school and taking PE classes. At home now, he’s developed a keen eye on the stock market, and his abilities have helped us grow our investments and help me retire early. It’s hard to believe I can retire after 39 years (but hey, who’s counting?).Doing those catch up investments in the 401K, IRA, and Roth IRA helped as well as the market’s banner year in 2020.
We finally got our solar panels up and running as well as a backup battery. I’m almost wishing for a blackout so we can test the battery. We had a short blackout during the infamous California wildfires in August. The CZU lightning blaze came within 18 miles of our house, enough to get us packing our bags (though we never had to evacuate). We're sorry that so many suffered.
We look forward to getting our COVID vaccines and hearing from you.
Cyndi and family