Writing in a world of confusion.

This is my first post of 2018.  I realize we are on day 8 of the new year but I haven’t felt much like writing.  It’s not that I have no ideas, I have plenty. Putting them down on paper  or on the computer screen as the case may be is the thing I have trouble doing.

I don’t think that I am that great a writer anymore. I used to be years ago but have somehow lost that flair.  Years in the corporate world and watching the world  we live in evolve into something I no longer recognize has made it difficult to gather my thoughts.  I know that I had an opinion once, that I was not afraid of what other’s thought.   When I find a box of old essays and stories or letters to the editor that I have written in the past, I am in awe of the writer I was the power that resonated in those words in print. That girl….or woman does not seem to exist anymore.

As a teenager I wrote short stories and plays. My papers were given A’s and B’s, my articles were published in the school paper. Now  in my mid 50’s that part of my life has faded away and changed shape,   but  I  know it’s true, that I did write with conviction, because I have a box with a few of those clippings and reports/essays.

My desire to write comes from my father.  He was a lawyer and a talented writer.  He  was politically outspoken. In addition to his short stories and legal correspondence, he also wrote letters to the editor that  resulted in  back and forth battles in the paper.  He was never afraid of what he put in print of the repercussions. He believed in free speech at any cost and he had strong opinions.  Sometimes his children  paid the price in the form of bullying.

So taking a page from his playbook, I wrote putting my own opinion out there with my heart on my sleeve.  Sometimes I was published sometimes I was not.  But times have changed and now I am cautious about what I put out there for anyone to read.

The world is confusing now. It is not a place I recognize anymore.  Free speech is a matter of perspective.  I begin to type but then think the better of what I will put down for people to see and delete it.  I start again only to change the words. in wanting everyone’s approval,  I  don’t see my talent as a writer anymore. I need to get through this to put the words on paper.  Perhaps the talent is only buried.  That remains to be seen.

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Tipping the Holiday Anxiety

It’s the most stressful time of the year for many reasons. Tipping being one of them. For the past few years I’ve not been myself, I’ve been caring for an elderly parent and  the stress  manifested itself in a depressing holiday season. I used to be the one shouting Merry Christmas and excitedly giving people a holiday tip or gift with a smile on my face, now I’m anxiously trying to figure out what to give the garbage men and how it will effect our service if I can’t give much. This year has been a financially difficult one.

In response to the downturn in our personal economy we have canceled many unnecessary services and will be downgrading a few more come January 1st. Sad but necessary. We have stopped going out to eat and we haven’t ordered take out in awhile. We make no unnecessary trips to the store and my hair was last cut in September and I color it at home.   I’m going to grow it out for winter.

I’ve eliminated much of the tipping anxiety by canceling services I no longer need but there are a couple left.

With regard to mail delivery   I never know who is actually delivering the mail on any given day so tipping can be confusing.  I’ve left candy and cookies at certain times and a small gift card and  I may still do that if they put the holiday card in the mail box. Most times though they won’t take anything  anyway (policy) which is a bit of a relief this year.

We pay over $600 a year for garbage pick up to a third party company as our town doesn’t provide trash pick up. There are now only two guys on the truck, the driver and the guy on the back. I feel that they deserve our appreciation for the work they do and I always try to give them something.  I used to leave cookies on top of the can but they usually ignored them.  The same with any cards with cash attached to the can. It’s a wonder nobody else took the money. The past several years I’ve been able to meet them before I left for work or when I’ve been home and have given $20 each in a card. The crew that did our pick up for years retired or were reassigned this past year and there are new guys on the truck but they still do a good job.  And although money is extremely tight this year I will tip but it will be $10 each instead of the usual $20.

Recycling is picked up every two weeks by our town but my son takes his recycling to work now so we only fill  half a can. There is only one guy on the truck and I was going to give him something  but I missed him. I’ll  try at the next pick up if I have it.

Other services? Well  we don’t have any and that’s a good thing this year.  I hope things are better in 2018.

Moving On: relocate

For the first 9 years of our marriage my husband and I moved 4 times.    Because we rented we had no ties and thus had the freedom to move when our lease was up.  We did not to have to deal with difficult neighbors or other issues for more than a finite period of  time. We didn’t have many bills back then either so not much to change our address on. Relocation was easier then.   But then we bought our  house and we stopped moving completely.  We became  trapped.

We have been in our home over 24 years now and dealt with catastrophes and problem neighbors with nothing to show for it except declining house values and more debt and more problem neighbors.  Our house is in need of work again and with no money and no motivation to do it we are  putting  a bandages on issues we would normally jump right in to repair. Nothing major mind you but I can’t be certain that if something major were to arise that I would not put a tarp over it.    The story goes: Young happy couple buys fixer upper fixes house,  saves rest for later years,  middle aged couple deals with major repairs that take life savings and equity and only a few years later older couple throws in towel……. and hopes for the best.

I’m unemployed right now  and  my husband is going to retire soon. On his retirement we can afford a modest apartment and one car so it looks like we will be downsizing sooner rather than later if I don’t find a local job.  We will likely not get near enough for this house in it’s present condition but it doesn’t matter.  I  want to walk away, to start fresh, even if it means going broke  to do it.  I  want neighbors that care and bills that are manageable and I would rather rent than own in this downtrodden economy.

So, if all goes well,  in the coming year  we will sell our house, change our address, settle all our accounts. And through a change of location we may find happiness again. But we are definitely renting this time.

via Daily Prompt: Relocate

Knitting a Family

“There you go you’ve got it”  “D” said.  She watched me closely as I learned to cast on and the stitches came together. I was knitting.  I felt powerful. She taught me many things but that was the first.  I was excited.

It was 1977. I  was an awkward 13 year old. She was a fit trim and very professional 33  year old.  She was my father’s second wife and that was the year my brothers, sister and I considered her our step mother.

She was the other woman three years before then.  My mother had always accused my father of cheating even when he wasn’t so it came as less of a surprise when she found her suspicions confirmed.  “D” was the final straw in an already broken marriage. My mother fled across the country and left her 4 children with my father, a man whose temper made him both abusive and unkind.

“D” was a strong woman. Her parents lived through the Great Depression and instilled their values on her She had younger siblings and had worked in her  parent’s restaurant as a child performing very adult chores.  Her family was poor and if she wanted to go to college she had to pay her own way.   She  worked her way through college and became a teacher. She didn’t stop there, she  entered a Masters Program and  met my father while she worked her summer job as clerk in the office of an associate of his (he was a lawyer).  He brought her gifts until she agreed to go out to dinner with him. My father could be charming and to his credit he was persistent. To her credit she didn’t know he was married then. By the time she realized that she would be the other woman, it was already too late she was in love with my father.

My mother was not a stable person.  Her  emotional state had started to deteriorate by the time I was 8 and once she found out about  “D” it was far worse. One day while my father was at work, she packed up her stuff and left us after calling her best friend. I was 12.  Our Grandparents watched us for 2 weeks then my father moved “D” in to take over.

It was not an easy transition for “D” or for us. She was very strict like our father and sometimes unapproachable. she criticized my weight and did not like my attitude. I didn’t like that she was an apparent replacement for my mother or her criticism. My father and “D” had volatile arguments too which usually involved things being thrown at one another.   There was much to be unhappy about in that environment.

But “D” didn’t give up and it wasn’t all bad for me.   “D”  spoke 4 languages, she was a seamstress, she crocheted, knit and she was a coupon shopper before it was a thing. She  taught me more about cooking and making a meal last than anyone else ever did.  She taught me how to survive on pennies which came in handy during the early years of my marriage and is coming back in style now.    I resisted much of what she wanted to teach me. My teenage angst getting the best of me and I blamed her for my mother leaving.  But somehow we connected through knitting.  She bought me my first knitting needles that year and skeins of yarn. She patiently watched me as I did a slip knot and cast on the loops and complimented me on my first finished pattern which was a simple scarf. Knitting connected me to her in a different way than I was connected to anyone else.

When I was  14 my mother came back into our lives but her marriage to my father was over.  My father let her stay in the house for another year and then she moved out into her own space. Since Mom had been the one to leave  us,  my father got custody of all 4 of us and “D” stayed with him a few more years but eventually my father true to form would tire of her and moved on to someone else.  D and my father had been together for 10 years but  had been married only a short time.  I had already moved out of the house by the time “D” left my father for good. I was 20.  I never saw her again.

I didn’t hear much from her after that.  She and my dad had no children of their own, there was no reason for her to be close to us and I think she wanted to leave all the pain of her relationship with my dad behind.  Many of their friends aligned with her and so we lost friendships we had with some of those families.   I kept track of her whereabouts through family members who had some connection through her career. I tried to reconnect  and spoke with her briefly but she really didn’t want to. So like that the stitches  in that scarf that held us together the relationship became unraveled.  Things got busy for me and I stopped knitting. I took up crocheting briefly and gave that up as well.  I don’t know if there was any connection, it’s just that I didn’t feel like it.

Recently I started thinking about knitting a scarf and realized that I could no longer find my knitting needles.   I did have crochet supplies and so began to crochet but I’m thinking of buying some at the local crafts store.

Last month, I read the obituaries and found out that “D” had passed away.   She had outlived her family and never remarried after my father. The Obituary stated she was surrounded by many friends. Some of the names I recognized.   I didn’t cry but I felt the loss.  As soon as I have some money I’ll get those supplies and who knows….maybe I’ll knit  a scarf.

via Daily Prompt: Knit 

Atmospheric Pressure

via Daily Prompt: Atmospheric 

My asthma is back with a vengeance. My Allergist is one of the few doctors that I go to with any consistency  these days and I had to cancel my recent appointment. I think it’s the weather.  The atmosphere changes with the fall. The air feels heavier to me. My asthma is allergic asthma but it also can be triggered by stress. Lately I’ve got all the symptoms of PTSD now triggered by my neighbors and thus the asthmatic trigger.

My neighbors provide a different kind of atmosphere. It’s one of turmoil.  The air is heavier around my space because of them.  It’s hard to come home and harder to leave the house.  I have neighbors from hell. I’ve had neighbors from hell before and weathered it but these days it seems harder.

These neighbors use their teenage children to wreak havoc.  The kids and the parents  don’t like rules and  when we set boundaries regarding our space, they balked.  The father attempted to start a fight my husband when that only resulted in the police being called the children were enlisted to taunt the “grumpy old people” who won’t let them have any fun.  Sometimes they invite their friends telling them what horrible people their neighbors are.  The kids sit on the sidelines waiting for an opportunity to press my or my husband’s buttons.  Mostly it’s mine because I am the most sensitive. We set up cameras which keeps them away from the cars (they used  to set off our car alarms just for fun) so my husband tells me to ignore them the way their parents ignore us on a daily basis.   My husband and son are good at  ignoring them I’m not but i’m getting better at it.   I’m This is 8th grade stuff and I’m an adult. So why does it feel like I’m being bullied in middle school again.?

I’m feeling atmospheric pressure right now.  Pressure to find a job, pressure to take care of my mother and pressure to keep it all together financially. The pressure not to let my neighbor’s behavior deepen my current social anxiety.

Pressure crushes but it also makes diamonds so maybe the current pressure I feel will result in a gem down the road.

 

 

Loud Car Horns

via Daily Prompt: Honk

We live in a corner house with the back facing a busy street.  There is a lot of traffic  in the morning, evenings and weekends so noise is a given and I have learned to tune a lot of it out.

Car horns are a different story.  In my little piece of suburbia,  there are some people that feel the need to sound their car horns as they drive by without a rhyme or reason. I think it’s just to hear their car horns sound.  Many times it’s early in the morning or the middle of the night. There is no reason to honk their horns.

So when I think of the word honk car horns come to mind.

Life and the Silver Lining

So I’ve been through a lot in life, dysfunctional family, loss of loved ones,   poverty, weather related destruction, life threatening health crises, weight issues, neighbors from hell, manipulative aging parent…… Through all of it, I used humor and a positive attitude to get me through.  I could turn any situation around just by believing it would get better. But right now I’m lacking the ability to see the silver lining.

There is a lot for me to be thankful for, my loving husband, my  son, their jobs,  the roof over our heads, food on the table and that this round of bills has been paid. There is also much to be disappointed and sad about about and  I tend to focus on that.  Violence in the world, my current unemployed state,  the financial struggle, that my mother’s declining health as she ages has only increased her manipulative behavior and  has stressed me out, that my neighbors are simply awful and have made me somewhat agoraphobic as a result, that I am estranged from much of my family except for my mother and  that I can count my true friends  on one hand and they don’t even live near me.   So when I’m  looking for the negative I don’t have to go very far. And lately I have to admit I’ve been kind of …..well….a downer at least at home.  So I’m searching today for my positive attitude.

So where is the silver lining in not having a job and financially struggling? I’m not sure. I do know there is one but I may not see it until later after I’ve weathered this storm.  Maybe it’s the fact that I’m finally reducing those unnecessary expenses that I’ve ignored for the past few years because now I have to.  That I’m clipping and actually using coupons.  That I was there for my husband when he had to have an emergency medical procedure recently. That we were able to pay the bills on one income this month.   That I finally have a job interview with a company that I would love to work for and found something to wear.  Who knows maybe I will get that job or one of my many temp agencies  will line something up.   I have to be secure in the knowledge that I’ve been through and survived worse tragedies  but as I get older it seems harder not to give up.  Haven’t I  paid my dues? Shouldn’t things be falling in to place?

Hopefully next year I’ll look back on this time in my life and will laugh or sigh with relief as I have done in the past. That I won’t approach the next crisis with as much despair.  In the meantime I have a household to run and the search for the silver lining continues.