Lake-Effect Ugh

It is Christmas day and it is snowing–hard. I am very glad to not be driving in this crud.

I am watching TV and the Weather Channel is talking about the ever-dreaded lake-effect snow and showing a picture of… Massachusetts! Are you kidding me? They kept talking about New England and showing New York. New York does make some sense because it borders Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Syracuse and Buffalo are the focus.

Meanwhile, in my world, Lansing, Michigan, the snow is coming down probably an inch an hour. The radar is typical for this kind of system. Frigid air sweeps across Minnesota and Wisconsin. It is 5 degrees and sunny in Milwaukee. The same air traipses across Lake Michigan and dumps snow across the lower peninsula, starting in Holland and Muskegon and coming as far east as Lansing sometimes, like today. It will be warmer here than the other side of the lake. It might be fifteen degrees here. Meanwhile, the Weather Channel doesn’t even give our state an actual name. They refer to our region as “the Great Lakes.” When Canadian air sweeps across the Great Lakes,  it doesn’t just snow in Buffalo and Cleveland! Just saying. We don’t gt the press because crappy weather is not noteworthy. It’s snowing in Michigan in December. So? And your point is…? Yawn.

Meanwhile, I am trying to accomplish something. I am working on an Excel file to show my student. I have found another type of chart she might prefer to the bell curve. It’s called a histogram. For the smaller job codes, a graph is silly, but the vaster job codes could use a histogram. I am trying to get things done before it is hot and oppressively humid, which is the flip-side of almost being an island. When it is hot, hazy, and humid, I don’t want to do anything at all. So this is my opportunity.

The upside is a white Christmas. The downside is a white MLK day, a white groundhog day, a white Valentine’s day, and sometimes a white St. Patty’s day. Ugh. On my mark, get set, go.


Trying to Focus My Attention

Many things are swirling around in my mind now. I finished my Christmas shopping last week and have been doing holiday stuff this past week. I sure will be glad when the holidays are over.

They seems to really like me at the American Cancer Society. I have been helping the secretary Laurie out and helping her get a lot done. It is very rewarding.

And I have been fighting with Excel. This student of mine emailed me some files and I was all enthused about showing her how to make something into a table and sort by anything she wanted. Problem: the file she gave me was so huge that Excel basically vomited on us and informed us that there was not enough memory. So I couldn’t show her anything and she was very frustrated.So I went home and did some huge deleting of columns (like names and dates of hire) or anything not absolutely necessary to using the evaluation scores. And I found out how to make bell curves. I emailed her some. She is very happy and wants them for all the job codes and supervisors. This one sheet has 2,254 rows. I told her I would start working on the job codes for that sheet, but this would be unbelievably time-consuming. So I can do some amazing things on Excel, but that has been sucking up time and energy.

And I have been reading a book called “The Wild Edge of Sorrow.” It is fabulous. It talks about all sorts of different types of grief. Grief isn’t just about losing a person. It’s also about dead dreams and hopes, unmet needs from childhood, lost species, lost cultures and languages, and suffering of all kinds. It talks about the need for community and safe places to process feelings. Our culture basically sucks at that.

Part of why I have been reading so much is that I can’t watch TV. I can’t stomach it. When Barry got stage four cancer in 2008, he only had a 20% chance of living five years. I spent 2013 and 2014 watching TV with him and waiting for him to die. I spent 2015 praying for either of us to die (didn’t care which of us). So now, in my mind, TV=waiting for death. I know it hurts Barry that I don’t sit and watch TV with him much, because that is really all he can do, but I have to get on with my life. And TV is not a productive part of that. TV is not where I want to place my attention. I am moving on.

I wanted movement.

Lots of things are happening now.

This week will be crazy. I am volunteering Mondays and Thursdays for the American Cancer Society. This Wednesday will be my last time at the Women’s Center, although they said I have cat-petting privileges anytime. If I need to pet a cat, I can always go there and pet Taser and Luna.

Also this week, I do tutoring on Monday and Wednesday. I saw my student last week. She knows nothing about Excel and has two projects to do. We worked on one, looking at the policy differences of various unions she deals with. I showed her what she wanted and then showed her a much easier-to-print way to do it in Word. So she decided to do it in Word, seeing as there are no actual calculations in this project that would make Excel a better choice. I don’t see my job as being an “Excel Tutor” but rather as a “Solution Finder.” She said she knew of others that need help with Excel, so this could grow into something.

And there are miscellaneous things this week. Such as getting my hair cut Monday night. I haven’t had a trim in probably eight months and I’d rather give the business to a friend than pay a stranger. In addition, I am making peanut butter balls with my former Protestant minister’s wife. They are such good people that they give Christians a good name and there aren’t a lot of such folks left in this world. We’ve been doing this for probably twenty years. She’s been having some health problems and memory issues, so I am unsure how many more years we will be doing this.

Of course, Christmas is coming up. I just mailed cards with money orders to Barry’s grandsons in Algonac. I made him do the writing in the cards but I did the envelopes because it is important that the postal service find them legible. And we just mailed a card to his daughter up in Clare county, with our address sticker on the envelope.

Why is that significant? Because nobody, and I do mean nobody, in his family has our address. We moved a little over a year ago and left no forwarding address–on purpose. His sisters pretended to offer help and then when I tried to get actual assistance, the response was, “Now is not a good time.” Seriously? Is it ever a good time to be in a crisis and need help? So I basically told them to go screw themselves and not to contact us further. And so far, so good. The only time I ask any of them for anything (or ever will) and the answer is no. And I was asking for very little. Really? Gee, I am so sorry I inconvenienced you.

Back to Bailey, his daughter. I called her ex’s mom (the grandsons’ grandmother) and it turned out that Bailey wanted our phone number so a friend could contact us. Reality check: we know none of her friends. Never have. In other words, she wants money. Why doesn’t she have our phone number? Barry has been calling her every other Friday since she turned 18. He only gets her machine, but that’s not the point. She doesn’t have caller ID? Before we switched to Verizon probably five years ago, we still had a land line with the exact same number! An old phone book would do the trick.

Anyhow, Jeff’s mom said she wants she and her husband to come with Jeff and the boys to Lansing. I said we would take them to Smokey Bones and the boys could buy what they wanted at Dick’s, which is just across the parking lot. At this point, every event with Barry has to be treated like possibly the last one ever.

I told Barry about all of this and at first told him his daughter was not welcome. He says, “Why not?” I reminded him that she threw a fit when she found out we saw the boys this past February and referred to Barry as “that child molester.” Funny how no one can even imagine Barry doing anything remotely inappropriate and he said, “I can’t even molest myself.” Such a guy thing to say. I said I might call 911 if she shows up because I don’t want her anywhere near us.

But then I reconsidered and told him he could see her if I’m not there because I can’t guarantee what I would do if I saw her. We haven’t seen her since Christmas  of 2014. That is a marriage and a divorce ago. I have always had the policy of not interfering with Barry and Bailey seeing each other. Until I heard about her throwing a hissy fit when Jeff brought the boys for a visit and referring to her dad as a child molester. That’s why giving her our address is such a big deal.

Then it struck me like a ton of bricks. Maybe she wants her inheritance now. Barry wants her to have $2500 when he dies and it sounds like she is totally broke up north. I don’t care when she gets it. If that’s what she wants, we can arrange that. I can stick it into an account somewhere and let her know about it when she wants it.

Is this the closure Barry has been waiting for? Is this what he is living for?

Either absolutely nothing is changing or more is happening than I can keep track of. But a lot of movement beats being stuck any day.

Feast or Famine

I am getting movement.

The American Society likes me as a volunteer. I love doing actual administrative stuff. Still not getting paid, but it looks a whole lot better on my resume than Target would have. They even want to show me their banking procedures. I think they really need help. They don’t even know how ridiculously over-educated I am. They got a bargain and don’t even know it.

Still practicing my MS Office. Office Team sent an email about potential opportunities and one looked right up my alley. So I called and asked how many hours a week it would be. Forty. I’ve already told them that that is simply not doable with my husband still alive. They asked about my availability and I told them about ACS and that I wasn’t sure what they wanted from me.

That was yesterday. Today, I got an email from Davenport’s career coordinator asking if I would be willing to tutor (her IPAD auto-“corrected” to “turtle”, too funny) someone in Excel for money and I said yes. I have emailed the potential student. I expect to hear from her soon. I would love to turtle someone. I’ve been practicing for a couple months now. I will be sure to show them the difference between what they learn in business school versus what the average person in the real world actually needs to know.

Either everyone wants me or nobody wants anything to do with me. This is all very intriguing.

Tipping Points versus Faith

I have been listening lately a lot to Abraham Hicks recordings. Some of it sounds faith-based (just believe and it will happen), which I know from personal experience is simply false. If prayer actually worked, my life would be very, very different from what it is. I’ve seen too many people “have faith” and take zero responsibility for their lives. “The Lord will provide,” they say. Tell that to the six million Jews in the Holocaust.

Why do I think Abraham/Hicks are on to something? Because they talk about finding the good feeling and tipping points. Feeling good is always better than feeling like crap. Taking responsibility for how one feels is the ultimate in taking responsibility for oneself.

Tipping points are fascinating and real. This is how they work: you input something into a container (your mind, the world, whatever) and keep adding into it and eventually, and often quite suddenly, things change permanently. Think Archimedes in the tub. Why should a metal ship float on lighter water? He thought and thought and thought…and then relaxed in the tub. The dots were all in his left brain, he relaxed, the dots moved over to his right brain, and voila! They instantly connected. He did the work first but could not force a solution (the displacement of water). It had nothing to do with faith. He did the work. But could not force a result.

Socially, I think we are looking at many similar situations. Elections are the perfect example. In my opinion, the results of the 2016 and 2017 elections happened that way. Conservatives were pissed for many years and every single one of them voted and now Trump is President. Fast forward to 2017 and now the liberals are equally pissed and made huge strides. You don’t see the day-to-day emotions of every single voter, but you see the final result on election day. Things are happening behind the scenes. Faith not required or relevant.

I think I am seeing results from strange directions. For example, a few months ago this one girl at the Blessing was annoying me. I wanted her gone, but, to some degree, this was none of my business. Then, about six weeks ago, she was rude to someone else and was told she couldn’t act like that. She could not promise to do it again, so she decided not to come back. I got my way and didn’t have to life a finger! This was not how I expected things to go down.

Also, a few months ago, I thought it would be nice if there weren’t so many people competing for the one washer and dryer on our end of the building. About a week ago, someone broke into the laundry rooms and raided the money from the machines. So management disabled the machines and everyone is now going elsewhere to do their laundry. Nobody in their right mind is going to move into an apartment complex that has no laundry facilities. My neighbors are livid. People just may start to move out. I guess I got my way!

The point is that I am getting some of what I want, but not in the ways I expected. I am trying to figure this out. I seem to create the what and have nothing to do with the how. I am not understanding how this works. At all.

All I know is that I have spent years feeling like crap. Faith is a joke. Prayer is simply Christians telling themselves what they want to hear. Been there, done that.

Perhaps I am just telling myself what I want to hear. I’m just doing it with my eyes wide open and my goal is crystal clear: to feel good.

Meanwhile, I can increase various skills and make myself more valuable in the job market. You have to collect the dots before you can connect them. This is something I have learned. I have had personal experiences with sudden insight. I know how this works and am now applying it to every area of my life. One day, you read something you have read dozens of times and suddenly understand how it applies to every level of your life.

Whoever does hire me is going to be very lucky and they have no idea.

Learning to Focus

I am learning to be very particular about what I want to think about. It is just too easy to get depressed. I can’t go there anymore because “there” has nothing for me. I know what it’s like to not want to live. I know what it’s like to not be able to find a job. I know what it’s like to need help, be promised help, and then receive none. I don’t need to relearn those lessons.

Given the unbelievable slowness of time lately, I have had to be specific about what I want. It is too easy to “go with the flow” and not be deliberate about what I think about.

I think of today as yesterday’s creation. My goal is to do a lot less observing and a lot more imagining.

What I really want is to get on board the wave of change. Change is the only thing one can count on and I want to use it to my benefit.

What other people think is not the point. I reached that point a couple years ago. If they aren’t going to help, they don’t get a vote! Their opinions are worthless.

I am going to think new thoughts.

Long Nights

Time has been going unbelievably slowly lately. So I’ve gotten a lot done. I’ve been studying my MS Office. And listening to many law of attraction and binaural beat recordings.

I am looking for things that get me excited. I am having a hard time at this. Part of this is my history of over-involvement with things that offer me nothing. Getting my emotional ass kicked by subconscious unmet emotional needs.

The last time I got really excited by anything was when I discovered Eastern Orthodoxy. It met my current (at that time) intellectual questions and provided the structure I craved. I went looking for hesychia (silence and stillness) and found a Greek country club. I looked for structure and found a pastor incapable of being supportive of any opinion that he had not previously approved.

The upside is that the Greek Orthodox church cured me of my religious addiction. Permanently.

The downside is that I am wary of anything that excites me. How do I know I’m not just going on another emotional roller coaster that ends with me still (and always) being responsible for everything in my life, as well as now having made a new huge commitment that has zero ability to meet any real-world need of mine? I can’t blame others. I was attracted to this crap. It’s all me.

But I have to find something to get enthusiastic about. Life without any positive expectation whatsoever has no color or interest. Kill me now. I need a new perspective. Badly. Otherwise, I am so depressed that I can’t find a job that I pray not to wake up.

Meanwhile, the nights crawl by. But I can at least do some serious reading and listening. I need a new direction. I feel like the momentum is g-o-n-e. Perhaps this works for the best, but it’s hard to have perspective at the bottom of the valley.