Identify what is most important )0( Eliminate everything else
The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. Dr. Paul Farmer
The suffering of others is not alleviated when no one knows about it.
There is no one right way to live. Daniel Quinn Ishmael
The only thing that you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right sort of people.
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. Kurt Vonnegut

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

we take our small amusements where we can

So many funny, delightful and astounding things in my life.  Where to begin.

The art program, if it ever actually becomes in people showing up once in a really going nicely.  I am appreciative when projects begin slowly and build.  That helps me gain experience and comfort in that particular role.  It is as if all of us are growing into it at the same pace.

But, and maybe because of the stressors held by the clients, there are two people who are worried about not being able to come every time.  I continue to highlight the drop-in, no responsibility to attend, casual nature of what we do and hope for the best.  But, you know, people are just so darn sweet and tender and vulnerable and it reminds me that doing extra projects like this is, oh, like doing the right thing for the right reason, and if I get to take other people along at that little jaunt, so much the better.  Because I will show up and make stuff even if no one else happens by to share the fun of making messes and cool stuff.

I had a breakthrough at therapy this week.  It is in an area for regular conversation for us, there in that room, and it knocked my socks off.  Well, it would have if I were still wearing socks, but I have switched to birky-type sandals, so no socks (like men of my vintage often wear with this kind of sandal.  I had been feeling out of sync with life in general, my therapist prodded me and, kaboom, there it happened.  I cannot count the number of times we have discussed this exact same issue and I was able to honestly invest in complete denial.  I still have some thinking about it before I am ready to put words to ether.

I could hardly believe it when it happened.  You know, like the cottage cheese fell out of my head.  I got so much out of that session and I joked that I would be pissed if I felt better for the rest of the day.  Anyway, I will be reporting that I felt better for the rest of the day when I see her next.  Lordy.

One of our shelter residents has a great idea for a mascot.  Because we are a program for women who have experienced domestic abuse, she thought that a raccoon would be perfect because it already has two black eyes.  I tried to explain that we are more about healing and recovery than stressing the violence part, and she then asked if it would be better if the raccoon was purple.  I totally love people. 

I mean, is she not the sweetest person?  Yes.  Yes, she is.  She is one of the treasures that shelter work brings into your life.  A blessing to know someone without artifice, a sweet soul trying to make the world around her a better place.  I just love this stuff.

I probably already wrote this, but I am working only three weeks each month for the summer.  If it works out, and I do not freak out because I not using work and volunteering and other projects to avoid dealing with the empty spaces in my life that should be available for having a real and actual and functioning personal life, I will continue that from then on.  I do not remember what Julia Cameron wrote about this process of filling one's life with all kinds of crap as a tool for avoidance, but that is what I have been doing. 

Maybe I can find time, no, make the appropriate time to get back into art stuff.  I would like that.

This one is more of a gripe.  If you regularly use the laundromat for doing your laundry, and you have to bring your two, small children with you each week, and they spend the entire time stressed by the environment and all the coming and going and noise, or fussing or crying or feeling more stress because there is absolutely nothing to do except fuss or cry or try to run around, and you know this happens every week, then puhleeeeeez, stop by the dollar store two storefronts down and spend a fiver plus change and buy crayons, a couple of coloring books or pads and a couple of three-packs of those little metal cars that all little children seem to love.  Grandmas, too, but that is a different story.

That woman stresses my pacifist heart.  She does not even bring snacks or something to drink for them, although she does manage to get herself a soda or two from the vending machine. 

This week I stopped to get lunch and had grapes, a small salad and a banana with me because I did not have time for breakfast, you know, head-shrinking and all that jazz.  So, I ate my salad, the boys not being all that fond of spinach, bleu cheese and red cabbage, and shared the rest with them.  The mom thanked me and I accepted, but I wanted, really-really wanted, to suggest that she could bring something for them next week.  Unfortunately, or maybe it is a good thing, it is not all that much my business.  Anyway, next week I will have a small sack of cheap crayons, books and toys for them.  Not to stress or shame her, but because my granny heart wants to have some fun with them, whilst minding my own beeswax, which I guess is not truly keeping my opinions to myself. 

There must be some way for me to do this nice thing without being the laundrobitch.  I hope so.

One last thought before I get to bed, and that it is doing something nice for someone else this week was certainly helpful to them, but the truth is that I do this stuff mostly for myself.  Loving someone does not mean that giving is all that altruistic.  I guess if this kind of thing did not feel so wonderful that giving would be more uncommon.  I like to share, and I especially like giving and sharing without strings.  It is so freeing and it makes the times of struggle worth something, like the pay-off for having survived a lot of crap.  I share this only because I need to remind myself to do it more often.  Way more often.  I wonder if this is supposed to be part of working less and living more.  I would like that.

And, more
because you can just never, ever, ever have too much of that stuff. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

smart phone...dumb me

So anyway, I finally wrestled my budget into allowing a better phone.  I have been using a Trak phone, and really like it.  It is truly the most efficient and inexpensive phone to have, especially the model I have.  Big buttons.  Yay.  I still have it and use it for my clients when they do not have their own phone or have exhausted their minutes.  It is a safe way to provide phone calls to them and not expose my own personal number.  I have done that, inadvertently provided that number to the people my clients call, but that is the cost of having them use my phone.  Very small cost for a huge benefit.

I tried the new family phone system at Walmart and it was a miserable failure.  The coverage area and/or the service is not the same as the parent company, which is T-Mobile.  For informational purposes, I will be using T-Mobile as the identifier for my service plan, even though the actual name is Walmart Family Mobile.  T-Mobile is the actual server, and I know that because it was noted by the representative during one of my many telephone calls to them.  More to follow.

That phone was certainly affordable, but the ability to use it inside of any structure was enough to cause more stress than I can afford to have.

That phone would not work whilst I was at work.  It would not work if I was standing close to the building where I work.  It worked only a very, very few times inside my apartment, a place that is a house divided into three apartments and the darn thing would not connect to their network even if I was sitting right next to a window, which is where my desk is located.

Then, it would not work whilst out on the porch and if I wanted to make a call or receive a call, I would have to stand in the driveway.

I mean, what was the point of having an expensive (to me) phone if I could not use it.  What if someone broke into my home, and having barricaded myself in my bedroom, I would reach for my phone to call for help?  O.K., too dramatic.  But, it does nothing to lessen the frustration of trying to use this darn thing.  When I bought it and the service, I tried to use it right there in Walmart and it worked.

Countless telephone calls to T-Mobile and visits to the store and no one could or would help me.  Each blamed the problems on the other.  It was a crappy phone, said T-Mobile.  It was crappy coverage service claimed the store.  If not outright lies, it was an insane circus of deniability and not only the refusal to take responsibility, no one, especially T-Mobile even tried to help me figure out what the problem was, much less entertain possible solutions.

I guess that if you do not know, or care to know, or care to help troubleshoot the problem, then there really is no need for a solution.

So, following approximately six weeks of this mess, I tried to cancel the service during my final attempt to find a solution for using this very nice phone.  Turns out that you cannot just cancel the service when you want, or need, to do so.  You have to wait until a certain date.  If you miss that date, then you are stuck for another month of service fees.  I made the date, cancelled the service and tested to see if it was actually cancelled by trying to log in to my on-line account with them.

At this point I contacted Walmart via their web site.  I never heard back, but someone from T-Mobile called my new phone and left a message about settling the final bill.  They could not have had my cell number unless it had been provided by Walmart, and the number on my caller ID did not identify them.  No reply from Walmart, though.

The final bill did not arrive as they told me it would.  I called.  Got a promise/assurance/whatever they thing they are offering.  No bill.  I called.  The representative told me that I had to pay at the Walmart near me.  I went there and that person could not help me because I needed the account number.  Yikes, not her fault, and another strike against T-Mobile.

I went home, contacted them again and was finally able to receive the account number.  Went back to the store and paid the bill.

I was, still am, at the place where I need to have portable Internet access.  Sure, it is nice to have, especially when you need to price check something at the charity shop, but I need it because I work with clients when I am not attached to a desktop.  Which reminds me that the data plan is a joke, as connecting was never easy.  Whatever.

So, several hundred dollars later, I defaulted and went back to the carrier I had when I still had money, as in disposable income.  I was so happy to be there, back with the familiar, that I must have zoned or had a fucking stroke or something because I did not ask any of the right questions and ended up with a limited data plan.  Ohhh.  Ahhh.  Groan.  Head bashing.  Thud.

I am the dumbest person on the planet.  Totally.

I went over my data plan and have extra fees.  Dumb, dumb, dumb.  I have it straightened out and I will stay within the plan limits for two freaking years!  Two years of watching carefully and avoiding extra fees.

I deserve this.  I am a bad consumer.  I let happiness and the thrill of returning to that old carrier that I was the dumbest consumer that ever there was.  It feels like an old fashion fairy tale, one of those cautionary tales about not offending the person with the hair horns, eating unwashed fruit or being too nosy about the locked room you were told to stay the hell out of or nibbling on a house that is not mine, and thinking you can avoid consequences with the excuse of simply not knowing any better.  Like that.

I have two years to remind myself to pay better attention to my life.  I have a monthly opportunity to take a moment and consider how I am going to manage my money and my time and where my energy deserves to be spent.

Two years of accepting that I am just an ordinary person, that I will go on to make more and better mistakes and missteps, that every moment is a chance to learn something about my own self and the nature of other people who may not, will not, have my best interest at heart and that I can be that ordinary person who is simply doing her best.  That is me, the doing my best babe.

But, really?  Two years stuck in a mistake.  I thought I was over that sort of thing.

Monday, June 2, 2014


Liquids go in.  Coffee, juice, martinis.  Fruit and vegetables.  The cooked rice that was cooked in a big pot of water because if you are going to cook rice you may as well make a really big pot of the stuff.  Diet soft drinks...divine.  Carbonated water...nice, but not all that divine, although better than plain water, which is what you are supposed to be drinking most.  I mean, who came up with that?

Liquids come out.  That's it.  Only one form and with few variations.

When you are at a certain age, you pee more than at other times in your life.  At least it seems that way.  Maybe it is more about the ability to control exactly when your bladder needs to be emptied, or perhaps, more properly, the inability to eliminate extra liquids when it is convenient instead of whenever gravity or irregular muscle tone allows the stuff to leak out of you.

This happens during two periods of life.  Infancy/toddlerhood and old older age. 

Not only are diapers accepted for little ones, they are considered cute.  You know, the soft, brilliantly white cloth ones as well as the adorably patterned disposables.  Yeah.  I know that there are adorably patterned cloth diapers and diaper covers, but those were before my time as a young younger mother, and I really am not all that interested in them.

When you get old older, you can, if you like, wear diapers to remain less socially repulsive, and to keep you from having to wash your big girl panties and trousers less frequently than every other day.

In addition to to adult diapers, which are decidedly not cute or adorably patterned, there are Kegels, an effective and relatively invisible exercise, and surgery.

Kegel exercises are easy to remember when your bladder unfriends you at the supermarket.  Or, during church services.  Or, whilst at the park with your grandsons, or traveling on that stretch of highway between here and the weekend conference (for which you are already dangerously late), the stretch that does not have any exits for miles and miles.  No place to stop and relieve one's self unless you are more comfortable being shamed or even ticketed for indecent exposure, all the while praying that you do not end up as the humorous and embarrassing end-of-the-nightly-news anecdote.

Kegels are so easy to forget to do.  Have a couple of months days hours of being able to make it to the bathroom with time to spare and exercising becomes less of an immediate issue.  Back to being leaky, well, you know.

I had a day full of stuff to do, going as fast as I could between all that stuff and finally managed to find a restroom when I was at the bank.  Nice bank.

Not all older women have old-babe bladders, but I do and it is a bother.  I can never unconsciously pass up an opportunity to have a sit before I start off for something.  Sometimes.  I guess the that is still a minority of the time, but when you gotta go, you just must.  I have not progressed to adult diapers, but I did see a commercial on television for a non-bulky, nearly custom fit diaper for ladies.  I can still get by with the old pads, but it is probably only a matter of time.

Yes.  I know . Big picture, small problem.  If all I have to complain about is that I very occasionally stress about being able to make it to a restroom, then I should not be complaining at all.  But, you know, this does not feel like a complaint, not even a whine.

This is social commentary.  O.K., maybe not, but it is an aspect of aging that can be inconvenient, especially when you do not have many lower-body articles of clothing.  It is a teeny problem,

But, no one likes to worry about hygiene and being stinky because you forgot to bring along extra clothes. 

I do not like being stinky.  Yep.

Poor me.  My life is so hard.  Thud.