I’m not sure how this happened. I haven’t found anyone to blame yet, but I’m looking for a scapegoat and would appreciate a volunteer.
When did my blog change from a fun hobby into a do-or-die project? It has been consuming my life. Incrementally, bit by bit, it nibbles at my days, chews up my evenings and gnaws the edges of my nights.
I have computers everywhere, so I can work from any room. Any place I might relax, a computer lies waiting. The proliferation of computers was a convenience, so I wouldn’t have to haul stuff around. It wasn’t supposed to be a constant reminder of tasks and assignments. I renounced that stuff years ago … or so I thought.
I started reviewing books because I love them. Now, I have more books to read than time — and I’ve got deadlines. Deadlines? Come again? I’m retired, aren’t I?
No time to read other people’s blogs or listen to an audio book just for fun. No time to read anything that isn’t on my “to-read” list. Barely time to answer personal email. Or talk on the phone, shop, cook or do anything except write, edit and read. Sleep? No time for that, either.
We don’t change as much as we think we do. Just when we think we’ve finally gotten that piano out the door, it sneaks back in the window. Old, engrained habits lurk — then when you think you’ve got it beat, pounce. Whack. HEY! Where’d you come from? Saying “yes” until I’m drowning — it’s an old song, oh so familiar. I know the music, lyrics and all 42 verses. Old habits are like old shoes. So comfy. Slide right into those babies.
When I started doing this, I wanted to be busier than I was, but didn’t want to be tied to a schedule. Free, unscheduled time is the singular gift of retirement. We may be short of money but our time belongs to us.
Instead of letting myself enjoy the wealth of time, I’m back on a schedule. I’m not even getting paid!
So I’ve decided it’s not my fault. It’s someone else’s fault. I just need to figure out who. What about you? Has your hobby, your blog, your avocation taken over your life? I’ll bet I’m not the only one who has a problem. Maybe bad habits are contagious and I caught it from you. In which case …
It’s your fault. I can point a finger and be off the hook. No need to ponder my complicity or change my behavior.
This must be why scapegoating is so popular. It has surpassed baseball as our national pastime. If others are to blame, I can be a total screw up. If it’s not my fault, I don’t have to fix it. Cool.
So, is it your fault? You, there, sitting in front of your computer. Yes, I mean you. Don’t try to weasel out of this. I know guilt when I see it!
- Let Go of the Blame Game for a More Empowered Life (projectblissful.com)
- “It’s not my fault!” (jcdemon.com)
- It is not anyone else’s fault that we feel or act the way we do… (soulveritas.com)
- Dear Me: A Letter to Myself (premmeditations.wordpress.com)
Life happens. We plan. We’re psyched. Announce our upcoming adventure! Oops. Sickness. Financing falls through. The place we were sure was ours sells to someone else. Job offer dissolves; budget cancelled. Harvard said what? Who’s writing this script?
People (who ARE those people?) say “everything happens for a reason.” I’m not so sanguine, but I know we follow our destiny, like it or not. The longer I live, the louder I hear that drumbeat. Plans go awry. If fate decrees we aren’t doing it, discussion over. Make new plans? They fall apart too. Different reasons, same result. Another plan anyone?
Years pass. The you making plans has changed. If you get what you want, it won’t be what you expect. Could be better, might be worse. Surely different.
Take it easy, go with the flow. Bring energy, enthusiasm and a sense of wonder to everything, planned or not. Life’s unexpected, but needn’t be dull.
From womb to tomb, it’s a journey. We are forever becoming. The only thing we can always count on is us. Wherever, whatever, we bring ourselves to the party. The unplanned things were the most important. Never entirely fun. Rarely easy, but critical. Meaningful.
From 13 years old I wanted to go to Israel to live. Not visit. I had no interest in tourism. I wanted to live there, experience culture shock, be enveloped by foreignness. My first attempt to move there — with mom’s collusion — got cancelled when I chose college, a special B.A. program I thought wouldn’t let me in. I planned to study nursing in Israel. I was 16, just out of high school.
Twelve years later, I did move to Israel — on my own with my 9-year old son. No plans to study. I’d gotten my chance 5 years earlier, accepted into an exclusive Master’s program for administrative nursing. I dreamed of running free clinics for people without insurance.
Along came life. My first husband got cancer at 34. After I got up off the floor, I figured I needed an income, not a master’s. I found work as a writer; remained a writer my entire professional life. How would the lives entwined with mine have been changed if I’d moved to Israel in 1963? My son might not exist — or my granddaughter. I’d never have met Garry. I can’t imagine such a life.
This is where I should be. I know it, though not why. If I’d chosen, I’d be richer, healthier, living with better weather and no mortgage. But I wouldn’t trade for what I’ve got. Life’s not what I planned. It’s a challenge. But it’s good. I am where I should be. Destiny.
My dogs are happy. They never plan, except for the next biscuit. I’m with the dogs.
- – -
- Destined for Destiny (ashootingstarinthelightofday.wordpress.com)
- DPchallenge, A Matter of Sweet Destiny (gharveyn.wordpress.com)
- God-supernatural (questofrediscovery.wordpress.com)
- Fate and Destiny (dropdeadbella.wordpress.com)
- My Karma, my destiny (lmoktan.wordpress.com)
- talent… and your destiny (theingeniumblog.com)
- Weekly Writing Challenge: Papa Says Get Economical (dailypost.wordpress.com)
“That’s insane,” she muttered. “I couldn’t use that much water in ten years, much less in 6 months. There’s obviously some mistake here.”
She scanned the bill for the customer service number, found it, and bill in hand, walked up to the office, picked up the phone and dialed the number. After maneuvering her way through a maze of voice mail menu items and waiting to get a live human being on the line … a total of 15 aggravating minutes … a non-recorded human voice came on the line. ” Long Island Water Resources, may I help you?”
“I certainly HOPE so,” Sandy responded. “I have this water bill for $5,000 and there has GOT to be a mistake. I couldn’t use half a million gallons of water in a decade.”
“May I have your account number please?”
Sandy read off the number and waited while the computer brought up the file. “Well, ma’am,” said the disembodied person on the line, “according to our meter reading, that’s your usage.”
“It’s impossible,” Sandy repeated.
“Well, ma’am, that’s what the meter reads.”
Sandy mentally counted to ten and took a deep breath. “May I speak with your supervisor, please?”
“Certainly. If you’ll wait just a moment, I’ll put you through.”
Over the course of the last few years, Sandy had become an expert in dealing with bureaucrats. One of her prime rules was “when in doubt, go up a step in the hierarchy.” On the other end of the phone, music was now playing. She was back on hold.
The last couple of years, nursing her dying husband had given her a kind of dogged determination. She would straighten this out, however long it took. She hoped, though, it wouldn’t take too long.
She drummed her fingers on the desk, waiting for a voice to come on the line. The music on the line changed from classic rock to country, then to a Broadway ballad. Still she waited. Finally, a voice came on the line. “This is George Connor. May I help you?”
“If you are a supervisor at Long Island Water Authority, then maybe you can,” she responded.
“You’ve got the right guy. To whom am I speaking?”
“I’m Sandy McHenry and I’ve just gotten a water bill that says I used half a million gallons of water over the last six months and owe $5,000.”
“Well, did you?”
“That’s ridiculous. I have a 60 by 100 foot plot of land and a house with one and a half baths. I live alone, unless you count the five cats, who, I should add, rarely bathe and never turn on the faucets. There’s clearly some kind of problem that needs to be tracked down. I have low water use toilets, make sure that the pipes and taps don’t leak, and take showers rather than baths. In my entire life I’ll never use this much water … “
“May I have your account number?” he asked.
Patiently, Sandy read off the numbers again and waited while he brought her account up on the computer.
“I see what you mean,” he said. “You’d have to fill and empty a couple of swimming pools a week to use that much water. There could be a number of possible explanations for this. I think we’ll have to start by sending out a field engineer to look around.”
“What do I do about the bill?”
“I will put a freeze on your account for now, so you won’t be considered overdue. We can schedule an engineer to come out tomorrow. Can you be home between 8:00AM and 4:00PM?”
“I guess I’d better be,” she said. Then she sighed. She’d taken so much time off during the last couple of years, another day would hardly matter.
Hanging up the phone, Sandy tacked the bill onto the cork board behind the desk. She leaned back in the chair and looked around the room. So many memories. Before Jonathan had gotten so sick, this had been his “lair,” where he’d kept his old typewriter, books, racks of pipes and humidor. He came up here to write, smoke a pipe, think, escape.
Jonathan had been such a private person. Even after he and Sandy had married, they’d had separate bedrooms. Mostly, they’d slept together in one of the other, but sometimes, he had needed to be alone.
Sandy had known from the start of her relationship with Jonathan that he wasn’t in good health. She’d known he’d had a heart attack before he turned 40, needed daily medication. Had to be careful of his diet. He wasn’t supposed to smoke at all, but he did. He wasn’t supposed to drink, but he did that too. He was supposed to exercise regularly, which he didn’t. And he was 23 years older than Sandy, having turned 50 the day after she turned 27.
But Sandy had loved him. He was charming, witty, original, and smart. He seemed to know something about everything and a lot about some things. He had a rich voice and could tell a story better than anyone she’d ever met. He made her laugh, made her think, helped her grow into herself.
And then, she helped him die.
And now, there was the water bill. A $5,000 water bill. Maybe tomorrow would bring a million dollar electric bill. The excitement, she thought, never ends.
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- Woman served with $16,000 water bill and the utility company insists she pay it (freakoutnation.com)
- What does 70 gallons of water look like? (conserveaqua.wordpress.com)
- California woman served with $16,000 water bill (rawstory.com)
Who is the shadowy figure in the window? Who has come to haunt me? Be it a ghost? Wraith? Recently risen undead?
It is but the photographer herself, haunted by her reflections as she contemplates the strangely distorted reality viewed through old and dirty panes of glass. In this case, the windows belong to the now-abandoned — and for sale –Unitarian Church across from Uxbridge town common.
My favorite cartoon – by George Booth – was originally published in The New Yorker. It shows a man sitting in front of a typewriter. Dogs are everywhere A woman, presumably his wife, watches from the doorway. The caption reads “Write about dogs.”
My home is full of dogs. Anyone who comes to visit must compete with the dogs for the comfortable chairs and the best spots on the sofa. (Come to think of it, we have to fight them for the best seats too.) That’s the way it is. The dogs are family.
If we have guests who are old, frail or allergic, we do our best to accommodate their needs. We put the most rambunctious, smelly, and hairy dogs out of the way if we can, but that depends on the weather. Basically, if you don’t like dogs, you’ve come to the wrong house. People who don’t like dogs are not frequent visitors.
That’s fine with me. I prefer the company of most dogs to most people. There are lots of reasons to prefer dogs. But the two big ones are love and honesty.
Dogs love you completely, totally, and without reservation. They don’t care about your social status or education, whether you are young or old, ugly or beautiful, rich or poor. They love you completely.
Your dog will never betray or abandon you.
Dogs are terrible liars. Not that they don’t try. Every dog will do his or her best to convince each human to give them treats. Your dog will tell you she needs a biscuit now or will collapse from hunger. This is not particularly convincing when the canine in question is a beefy pooch who has obviously never missed a meal. Eternally optimistic, all dogs figure it’s worth a shot. It’s a dog thing. You never know when a biscuit might fall your way.
When the performance our furry kids put on in hopes of getting a tasteless dry biscuit is especially hilarious, we relax the rules and give them a little something. After all, they don’t have hands and can’t grab one for themselves. Now and again, they need to get lucky because they’re cute and we love them.
Dogs lie, but their lies are simple and transparent. There’s no malice in them. They just want a biscuit. If they don’t get one, they love you anyway.
When it comes to love, dogs are the best. They “get” love and think you are wonderful. They think you are wonderful every day of their lives. When they are dying, the last thing they will do is look at you with love in their eyes, wag their tail one final time and try to give you a kiss.
I have spent my life lurching between my quest for God and an equally ardent quest for the best dog food at the most reasonable price. When times have been hard and we’ve had to choose between food for us and food for our furry children, the fur kids always win.
Our dogs do not suffer from angst. They don’t worry unless supper runs late or biscuits are forgotten in the bustle of a day’s activities. If such a catastrophe should occur, they know exactly where to present their grievances and apply for redress.
Dogs live close to their deities. They hang out with their gods on the sofa. They get biscuits from them in the morning and evening. If life is circumscribed and a bit confined, it is nonetheless good.
Sometimes one of their gods gets angry and yells at them. That might make them unhappy for a few minutes, but the gods of their world don’t stay angry. Our dogs have kindly and loving gods who are inclined to scratch them behind the ears and talk to them in soft voices.
We are gods to our dogs and as such, we set laws for them to live by. Don’t poop or pee in the house.
Do not chew things not given to you for chewing, especially not anything containing batteries. Don’t jump on old people or babies. Don’t growl at delivery people. Don’t stay up late barking. Abide by the law and all will be well.
When rules are clear and understood by all, life runs smoothly.
The human side of the contract is more complicated. It’s harder being god than dog.
We pledge to care for them all the days of their lives. We keep them healthy. We love and nurture them. We feed them properly, make sure they get exercise – though they don’t get enough of it and neither do we. We keep them warm and dry in winter, cool and dry in summer.
If we force them to go outside to do their business, it is because they are, after all, dogs.
Every evening, for at least a little while, their gods climb down from heaven to play on the floor.
Our dogs don’t fret about the future. They live in a joyful present. When their time comes, we will make sure they pass gently out of this world. We promise to keep them as free from suffering as is within our power.
That is our solemn contract. We live up to that pledge because we really are God to our fur children and must never let them down. Pets teach you a lot about the divine contract.
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- Dogs, God(s), Vampires and People (but mostly dogs) (sigmafemale.wordpress.com)
- All dogs go to heaven. An ode to the very best of dogs. (momdeguerre.wordpress.com)
- Prompts for the Promptless – True Cost: Tinker Belle (teepee12.com)
- What You Should Know If You Have A Dog (brendaculpin.wordpress.com)
I believe in freedom. I don’t just say that. I mean it. I believe everyone has the right to express his or her opinion, no matter how uninformed or stupid.
I do not believe our society should allow — or worse, encourage — the spewing of hate in public. Facebook has become the poster child for bigots, supporting the vicious outpourings of ignorant and mean-spirited people. When I first signed up for Facebook, there was much on it in which I was uninterested, but there were also many people expressing reasonable opinions, telling stories of their lives and the lives of others. It was a way to link up with people I hadn’t seen in years, find out what was going on in lives being lived far away. It was fun.
Then it changed. The 2012 Presidential election brought out the worst in many people. Diatribes and postings full of hate and threats (implied and explicit) of violence. I started blocking people. It made my stomach churn and still does. There is no room in my personal space for bigots, racists and hate-mongers. I frankly don’t care whether or not they have a legal right to spread their vicious invective. There is, above all, a thing we call “right and wrong” … and that stuff is wrong by any standards. Worse, the proliferation of this ugliness affects how the world perceives us — in a very negative way. It polarizes dialogue and keeps people and parties in their separate corners. You cannot have a functional body politic if people cannot speak to each other. If we hate everyone who is different from us, we don’t see them as human. That’s a terrible thing. I don’t see anything good coming of this.
My blog is my world. I own it. I have control over it. I do not allow argument for argument’s sake. The trolls will never control my website. I do not allow personal attacks of any kind and the mere hint of racism will get that person banned forever. I may not be able to control Facebook, but I can control this space and I do.
My opinion of Facebook? It is what it is, the populist bulletin board for the world. I go there to play a few mindless games and see what some of my friends (the real ones) are doing. See who has posted pictures of family, babies, friends, dogs and all that stuff. I cross-post my blog to Facebook, so technically I guess I’m considered active, though I very rarely post anything directly there.
It’s a good place to go and find out what people are yelling about these days, what the current hot-button issues are. What kind of craziness is currently afflicting our world. The people who rant on Facebook would no doubt rant somewhere else if they didn’t have Facebook so perhaps it’s better that they have it — a public venue — than to be forced into the dark corners where they would fester and become even more evil than they already are, though that is hard to imagine.
Should Facebook enforce their own guidelines? They should. Morally and ethically, they should. They aren’t strict guidelines and are only likely to weed out the most extreme of their clients.
Will they? I doubt it. They’ve gotten too big. They lack the personnel to monitor their site. It’s become a monster. I suspect eventually it will self-destruct.
In the meantime, it’s the place where the crazies hang out. Like wild dogs, maybe they will eat each other and leave the rest of us alone.
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- Daily Prompt: Freedom of Facebook (dailypost.wordpress.com)
- 29.5 Daily Prompt: Freedom of Facebook (familyphotosfoodcraft.com)
- Behavior Rating 101: A Daily Prompt Response (eyesthroughtheglass.com)
- Online protests prompt Facebook to crack down on pages promoting violence against women (abc.net.au)
- Freedom of Facebook (easterellen.com)
- Freedom of Facebook (imafraidofthedark.wordpress.com)
- Facebook Privacy: CyberSecurity 101 (veracode.com)
- Daily Prompt: Freedom Of Facebook (suzie81.wordpress.com)
- Daily Prompt: Regulations on Face Book (layedbacklife.wordpress.com)
- DP Daily Prompt: Freedom Of Facebook Posted By Ranu (sabethville.wordpress.com)
Hey, you sass that hoopy RT Gomer? Now there’s a frood who really knows where his towel is! There. Now if our glorious leader happens to be a Hitchhikers Guide fan, that should score me… I dunno, my own podcast or something. If not, however, it’s still a passable (?) segway into wishing one and all a Happy Towel Day!