Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Willard Slough

Willard was an oddly sort and that was putting it nice
He never washed his hands just once he had to wash them twice

When Willard walked about the town he brought with him a sack
And when he put his smock coat on the front was in the back

One shoe was red, one shoe was blue, the other shoe was green
And Willard walking through the town was something to be seen

He wore pink gloves with the fingers out and carried a candy cane
Which he used to bonk folk on the head when they dared call him insane

One day I chanced to see the man he was in a backward run
I followed him so quickly then to see how this was done

It’s the eyes in back of my head, you see, was Willard’s quick retort
Then off in a flash he was gone again to seal up his fort

I miss the days of Willard Slough, running through the town
For when Willard Slough was with us then, who had a need for clowns

Happy Rabbit Hole Day!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What Happened Then

Here's a question for you: Do you ever dream about being in school again? Not as an adult returning, but at the same age you were 'way back when'. I do.

Actually, I also dream about returning to school as an adult. What's interesting about these dreams is that they do NOT take place at my old schools. The school are larger, more modern, and filled with new technology.

But when I dream I am young and back in school all is as it was. Kind of like Ebenezer Scrooge with the Ghost of Christmas Past.

For years I even remembered the combination on my lockers. Now I only remember a ten and thirteen. But I don't think they went with the same locker.

Memory is an odd thing. Back in the 1980s I worked at a small town newspaper. It was a rewarding job, albeit not with money. I earned $10,400 a year. Before taxes. Spouse worked three jobs and earned another $10,000. We paid roughly $6,000 together in state and federal taxes, as well as FICA. And, thanks to the Reagan Administration, had to pay an addition $1,600 at tax time. Apparently the 30% we had already paid wasn't enough. (The reason I remember this so well is that I was talking with a city administrator who was earning $70,000 that year. When he did his taxes he got a return of $7,000. Life is just so fair.)


While working at the newspaper I got wind through a school contact of a man who was celebrating his 105th birthday. I went out to interview him and take pictures. Not being the best photographer, my editor-owner sent the other reporter along to do the pictures.

He was a frail old thing, but still sharp as a tack. He had these tiny vials of brandy, and every night he would set one on his night stand. In the morning, the first thing he did was drink the whole thing.

He had served in World War I and remembered World War II. He grew up without electricity or automobiles or telephones. He told a lot about his life, but mostly he concentrated on the late 1800s and very early 1900s. And at one point he made a curious statement which I can now relate to much better (being about half his age now).

I find now that it is easier for me to remember something that happened back when I was five years old than it is for me to remember what happened yesterday.

Memory is kind of selective, isn't it? And not entirely reliable. I don't think I make too many mistakes with mine yet. But I have known several people who don't do well at all. And they're still quite young!

There is a theory - I don't know who's it is - that stored inside our heads is a record of everything we have done, seen, heard, felt, spoken and even thought. It's all there. Everything. Only the chemical pathways which allow us access aren't all connected for us anymore. But I remember reading some scientist's theory that there was a place in the brain which, if found and activated, would replay our lives for us in detail. Some think that is exactly what is going to happen when we stand before God for judgment. It's all going to play back for us. An irrefutable record of who we have been. For real.

Sometimes memory seeks to hide things from us. I remember a guy I worked with. He had been bicycling through Anoka when he crossed an intersection. He had the green light so he didn't think about traffic. Mistake. A woman ran the red light and struck him. According to witnesses, he never lost consciousness. He even spoke. Amazingly, he had no broken bones or other internal injuries. But he couldn't remember what happened. Everything from the moment he was struck until he left the hospital was gone from his conscious recall. Three years later it was still gone. I don't know if it ever came back to him.

Every so often I find myself wondering if I have any blank outs like that. Considering some of the things I do remember, if I do, whatever it was I'm not remembering must have been quite traumatic. Good thing I don't remember then. Right?

Memory. It plays such a critical part in how we get through each day. Without it we would have no hope of survival.

But that's just my opinion.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Horses are Gone. Who Gives a Damn About the Gate.

So, we've lost the house, right? That happened a few months ago. But what do we get in the mail yesterday but a letter from the bank informing us that we now qualify for a vast reduction in interest rate. Just over two percent! (We were paying over five.) This "offer" lasts until the end of February. It reduces the monthly house payment by $800. Pretty fantastic.

Where were they two years ago when we begged them to cooperate with us and they refused? That extra $800 a month could have made the difference between us keeping the house or not. Now the house sits empty. Deteriorating.

When we left the roof leaked over the dining room and the foyer. The siding was damaged on the north and west sides. There was no siding on the west side of the garage. The carpeting was all original from the year 2000. (We were only in it two years when our income dropped from $95,000 a year to $30,000 a year. And since then it has dropped to about $15,000.) The walls in the major rooms need to be repainted. Some of the sinks were beginning to leak and a couple of the bathroom fixtures needed replacement. The house sits in a low area (weren't we brilliant to build there) and so the sump pump runs almost constantly. Year round. We actually went through one and had to replace it.

Sitting empty the ceiling will continue to leak. The already worn and dirty carpeting will not be vacuumed. Condensation around the windows (a problem in this house) will not be mopped up, thereby collecting and becoming a breeding place for mold. Should the sump pump quit running for any reason the lowest level will flood. And for whatever reason there is, houses simply tend to break down when nobody is living in them. I don't know why, but they do.

Spouse believes the bank has the house up for sale at the low price of $169,000. That's about $100,000 less than what we owed, and $80,000 less than it would be worth were it in good repair. My estimate is that it is going to take upwards of $100,000 to restore it to excellent condition again. The roof and siding will take up at least $30,000 alone. But most of the double glazing has popped and the windows should really be replaced. Lets' see: 10 windows on the south side alone; 2 more on the west; 7 on the north; and 2 more on the east. That's 21 windows. Windows aren't cheap. Neither is carpeting. Living room. Family room. Study. Three bedrooms. The vinyl flooring in the kitchen and foyer should be replaced. And since one is at it, might as well replace the vinyl in three bathrooms (the downstairs one is unfinished anyway).

I'm sure the letter we received was some kind of form letter, for it makes no mention of the fact that it's been more than a year since we made a house payment. The thing is, now that our income has dropped to where it is, even at an $800 a month discount we couldn't afford it. What a pity. What a waste.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

It Sounds Easy

Faith in oneself. Believing in oneself. This makes an excellent foundation for achievement and success. How man times (as an adult) have I been told to "just believe" in myself, as though this were such a simple thing to do.

I expect that for people who grew up being told, shown, and supported in doing this it IS an easy thing to do. Something that comes as naturally as breathing. And these people are completely confused, frustrated, and sometimes even disgusted, by those who "won't" do it.

What these people fail to understand is that believing in oneself begins young, not old. Not that it can't begin when one is older. It's just that it's a h*ll of a lot harder.

As adults we either use what we learned as young people to help us continue to grow, or we have to overcome what we learned as young people to grow. The child who is told by parents (especially), teachers (also important), family and friends that they are special, gifted, intelligent, entertaining, athletic, creative, stupid, useless, unloved, unwanted, is going to become an adult who believes these things deeply in their heart. And what we believe deeply in our hearts will greatly affect how we live our lives.

One of the reasons my family has been 'unhappy' with me is because I kept my son from them. We seldom visited, and only once left Son in the care of any of them. My reason (and it was my reason)? I did not want my family to do to my son what it had done to me - and itself. What I saw it do to nieces and (especially) nephews. Disguised as humor, the constant barrage of harassment would have destroyed Son. He's a gentle sort. I didn't believe in my own ability to successfully combat the environment. So I kept Son out of it. The price I paid is that I went lower and lower in the eyes of my family. A price well worth the reward.

You see, Son has something I do not. Son believes in himself.

I know I have a high I.Q. I know I have ability in this and in that. And yet I find myself held back by a very strong conviction in my soul that none of that matters. I still can't do it.

Losing a negative self-esteem is a lot like losing weight. Those not suffering have a difficult time understanding why it's so hard to change. But it is. A good many of us never do.

What's the solution?

I have only one thought. Stop looking at fat people as "fat" people. Look at them as individual people. You might find they're worthy of your friendship after all. And the same goes for the broken down. What often happens is that "fat" people don't eat so poorly when they're around people who just accept them for who they are. And the same goes for the insecure. It has been true for me anyway. When I'm talking with my friends (all online right now) I find I'm not thinking about snacking, drinking pop or second helpings. And I find myself inspired to try again after my latest failure. When I'm with people reminding me of my weight and my failures all I want to do is find a place to hide and eat a bowl of chips with a liter of Pepsi.

My friends have not made me thin (yet). Nor am I a stalwart of confidence. But I do like my friends. They make me happy. Which is something I relish far more than success.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

We Are Often Our Own Worst Enemies

There is something about losing a job which leaves a brand upon a person. Or so I think anyway. So it has been with me. I think.

It's funny, too, how using a different word to describe a thing can totally change the meaning of what has happened in the minds of many. For instance, when I lost my very nice paying job seven and a half years ago I told people I was "fired". My sister Judayl would become almost livid with me for saying this. "You were not fired! Stop saying that. You were laid off. They eliminated your position. Didn't they give you a letter stating your termination had nothing to do with you?"

My termination. Officially, it means something has come to an end. But it has a sense of death about it.

Yes, it is true I got a letter stating the reason I lost my job had nothing to do with me. All of us who were "terminated" at that time got the same letter. Except RT, who argued and fought for a better letter and got it.

But in my mind I was told they didn't want me and that I should not come back. That's as good as fired in my book. Six of one. A half dozen of the other.

And to say my being chosen to be in the department half which was "let go" had nothing to do with me cannot be entirely truthful. There were several reasons, I'm sure, which had very much to do with me, which explain why I was chosen. Four of those reasons stick out in my mind.

A major factor, and one which the company went to great lengths to hide, was my age. Of the sixteen people let go that day, twelve of us were over forty. Three of the four younger employees let go that day were chosen simply to lower the average age. Being over forty I was given a sheet (without names) indicating the ages of all the people being let go and the average age of those people. The average age was 39.8. Only two people over forty were kept. And they were the only two people who knew how to do their jobs.

A second factor, but not nearly so formidable as the first, was my salary. I had been with the company fourteen years. While not the highest paid in my department I still was making a comfortable wage. More money was going to be saved by dumping me than by dumping someone at half my salary. And it wasn't like I couldn't be replaced. I had just written a piece of software which made it possible for anyone in the department to replace me. Wasn't that brilliant of me? [haha]

Formidable as the first factor was, I think the next two were what really sealed the deal against me.

The manager was newly appointed from the ranks. To be honest, he had been promoted too soon and wasn't really ready to take on the position. But the other manager saw an opportunity for his own promotion and took it, leaving his position open. The new manager's insecurities made him paranoid. And he quickly latched onto a Yes Man. The yes man was, of course, the most incompetent person in the department - if not, in fact, the entire company. In fact, he was being fired from the company by another department when my manager took him on. (The yes man had seen the writing on the wall and had maneuvered his way over.) Despite warnings from other managers, he brought the yes man on board. And the yes man immediately became a problem for the department. But nobody could touch him with any piece of evidence. He told the manager everything the manager wanted to hear. And the manager wouldn't listen to anything against him.

Which brings me to reason number three.

I can generally tolerate a lot. And if someone else is incompetent at their job I don't usually care. Until such time that they decide to have me blamed for their mistakes. I refuse credit when it isn't mine, and I simply will not take blame for the same reason. The yes man had been deflecting all of his mistakes at a couple of others (who, by the way, were also cut in the big employee reduction plan). I, and a couple of others, tried to help the innocent, but not being fully versed in that portion of the department were not much help at all. And then the yes man included me.

The argument was short. But loud. And when about a dozen requests to be left alone went unheeded I finally said what I was feeling. "You f*cking a*shole! Get the h*ll away from me!"

Needless to say, that did not go over well with the manager. I found myself in a private meeting - outside the building - in which the manager very nicely explained to me that yes man was really a great employee and I should become friends with him. He also told me something else - which is reason number four of why I was picked to be let go.

I replied that yes man was an effing backside and there was no way I was going to be friends with him. However, in the interest of department health, I would not argue with him again - if he would agree to the same.

As to the manager's other comment, I made no reply. But I really didn't have to.

In a nutshell, the manager's other comment was this: as he saw it, my job was to make him look good to his boss. If I could do that then I was fulfilling my job. If not, I was not. Yes man, by virtue of constantly speaking well of manager when CEO was around, was doing that. I never did anything like that. I needed to start.

To h*ll with that. That wasn't what I was being paid to do. Not in my mind anyway. While I never spoke ill of manager (while I worked there), I wasn't going to play politics. Especially if it meant lying. So I didn't do it.

So, when the big day came and half the department was let go, most of us shared an age over forty. Our salaries were widely ranged. But none of us got alone with yes man, and none of us went out of our way to make manager look good.

I know how to play the workplace game. But if a game isn't fun I just can't bring myself to play it. Not then. Certainly not now. It cost me then and it's costing me now. But as expensive as not playing the game is to me, playing it would cost me so much more. I would cease to be me, and I couldn't live with myself. I know. Because there was a time when I did play the game. And I hated myself so much - and the company which insisted I play - that I actually refused a raise two years in a row. And believe it or not, that did not go over well either.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Recharging the Spirit

Been sitting here sifting through what I've actually written (on the computer) thus far this year. Nearly finished compiling the list. If you're interested, I'm up to fifteen separate pieces, but only around 6,000-words. I've been writing in short bursts. Poetry. Posts. Things like that.

I had Playlist going and along comes a song I haven't heard in a long time. Amazing Grace. This was an instrumental, done with bag pipes. This song, perhaps more than any other I have ever heard in my life, speaks to me.

This is what I got from Wikpedia: ""Amazing Grace" is a Christian hymn written by English poet and clergyman John Newton (1725–1807) and published in 1779."

Newton had been a slave trader.

Generally, I prefer the song in bag pipes, with perhaps an orchestra background. But there are lyrics, and it is the lyrics which make the haunting bag pipe sound so real. If you do not know them, here they are:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

When we've been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

At various time in my life I have become quite "full of myself", and ultimately something will occur to bring me back down to reality. This song is one of those things which can do it very quickly. When I hear the music I think of the lyrics. And the lyrics remind me to consider myself in comparison with the beauty of others, and the idea. I do not measure up well to either. And I am gratefully humbled.

When I was younger I didn't particularly care to think of others as better at anything. Not acts of physical ability, and certainly not in intelligence. I knew I wasn't beautiful, but I liked to believe I was. (This is why I do not keep mirrors about my place.)

I am older now. To children, I am practically ancient. To retirees I am still a "kid". No matter. One thing I have learned in my years is that I don't have to be "the best" anymore. It's enough to be who I am - and that is a learning process only recently begun.

Many, I suppose, look at the lyrics of Amazing Grace and see depression and self-abasement. That is certainly there, but it isn't what draws me. What draws me is the forgiveness. The love. I am fast discovering that that is all that matters to me anymore. To be forgiven - by God and by people - for the mistakes I make, which are many. To be loved - by God and by people - for just being who I am, even while I am still learning myself who that is.

It is a beautiful song and it always makes me cry. At least on the inside, if I manage to keep my tears in check.

The song tells me there is a future. And I should embrace it. It's like - coming home after a long and disastrous journey and finding open arms accepting me back. Everything is going to be all right. That's what's amazing. It is.

I hope you are having a good day.

Here is a YouTube link to Judy Collins singing Amazing Grace with a background choir. Probably the only acapella song I can honestly say reaches me.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Frightening Bit of Legislation

It is only now that I am so much older than I was that I realize how naive and stupid I truly am.

Growing up I was taught about slavery, and how it is bad. I was taught about intolerance, and how it is bad. I was taught about murder, torture, harassment, and all kinds of things like that. And I was told those things were bad.

To me, it seemed as though this must have been new information for us all. For most of the adults I knew were very prejudiced against black people. They did not go by the name African-American at that time. Black Power was just coming on the scene.

There was tremendous intolerance for gay people. They were called "queers" when I was young. Faggot was a term used for guys, and Dyke was for gals. Not exactly endearing terms, were they?

I was guilty of using all the nasty words. Everybody was using them, so it only seemed right. Everybody, that is, except the people on the receiving end of those insults.

Suffering from my own persecutions, and even at times having the queer terms used toward me, I came to realize it was all wrong. I have always had gay and lesbian friends. I didn't always know it, despite everyone else seemingly aware. But you see I don't really care about that aspect of my friends' lives. They're my friends. What else do they need to be?

But I believed that people were finally "getting it", and that all of this hatred was fading away. Mine would be the generation to finally end racial hatred. Sexual inequality. Social casting. And so forth.

As it turns out my generation is more guilty of the crimes than any generation which has gone before. I say this because my generation has had all of the previous generations to look at and learn from. But we learned the wrong lessons.

I have seen prime examples within arm's reach of racial hatred. Gender hatred. Hatred against class. Hatred against gays and lesbians. I have seen all of these things which before, in my state of premeditated blindness, I failed to see.

It is exhausting to realize how many people just plain hate people who are different. This is whether the difference is skin color, faith, gender, sexual preference, class, and country. But we can't give up trying to put a stop to the hatred.

Thanks to Fairyhedgehog, I am now aware of something happening in Uganda. Granted, since I don't live in Uganda I have no real right to tell them what they should and shouldn't do. But what they are planning on doing is frightening. Basically, they are considering passing a law which implements the death penalty for gay and lesbian people. You can read Fairyhedghog's post here, and the New York Times article here.

I made my own post, speaking to the Christian community, on Faith in Forgiveness. That's another of my blogs. Not one which receives a lot of visits. Guess I'm not much of a Christian. Fortunately for me, God bases Christianity on forgiveness and not the opinions of others. I'm mostly a powerless person, but I speak when and how I can.

I wish we would all just stop hating each other. So many (most) of the world's problems would just go away if we did.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What We Say and What We Do

I just saw another PSA about getting flu vaccinations. I'm old enough now to remember when vaccinations were given free to everyone in school. There were no fees based on ability to pay or inability to pay. One day the students would show up to school and find it was vaccination day. Polio was the biggie back then, but I think there were others, too.

How times have changed. There are places where the poorest of the poor can go to get free vaccinations, but even the regular poor have to pay now. Spouse and Son got vaccinated last fall. I skipped it. But between the two of them it cost us about fifty dollars.

Money has certainly become the driving factor in our society. It crushes all other considerations - at least, in the minds of many. There was a time in this country when doing what was right was important enough to spend the money. But the conservative elements of our society have become incredibly powerful. And learned. They know exactly how to bog down any kind of legislation which might actually help people. Like trial lawyers who muddy up the truth with a barrage of irrelevant facts which confuse the jury.

As a country we say getting these vaccinations are important. But not so important to do what was done in the past: provide them free of charge to every student in school. Is this expensive? Of course it is. Very expensive. But so is having unvaccinated children all over the country. So are the two wars we are in - without any clear plan of ending. (Without an idea of what constitutes victory or defeat how can it end?)

We say it's important for everyone to have health coverage. But we won't spend the money to make it happen.

We say it's important people don't use cell phones and/or computers while they're driving. And yet we find no problem with new cars entering the market with built-in dashboard computers, telephones, and even television sets.

We Americans are probably the largest group of hypocrites the earth has ever seen.

Sorry. But these commercials annoy me. And I'm sick of winter. And I'm broke.

Have a good day.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Everlasting Connection

Most people do not have to live very long before they know of death. For people living in very difficult places, such as war zones, high crime zones, or very unsanitary zones, death seems to be at their elbow constantly.

For those of us living in modern western society death seems more removed. But really, it isn't. It's just more invisible to us as we don't see it quite so often.

But grandparents pass on. Aunts. Uncles. Eventually, parents. And of course we all know those who died before their time. Died young. Accidents. Disease.

It is when a young person dies that we struggle the most with death, I think. Although if we have been especially close to the the older person who has died it really isn't any easier when it happens. But there is a wave of emotion which sweeps over us when we learn of the death of children. It's like we feel they were somehow cheated, and it wasn't fair.

True, they have been cheated. But cheated of what?

What is it about living here that makes not experiencing it so horrible?

There was a time when I had quite a list to answer that question. But as I have aged I have pared off more and more line items. And as I have come to feel my faith in God and an afterlife grow into something more real to me I have come to pare off even more.

I have had my share of people I care about die. Not as many as some, I know. In that I have been far luckier than them. But I know the pain of loss. Daddy. Stephen. Lynahr. Grandma. Cile. There have been babies, teenagers, young mothers. It hurts. It always does.

But I have come to realize that those who die and move on to whatever it is in the afterlife are only cheated of one thing that really matters: us.

If the afterlife is all we like to believe, then why feel sorry for someone who gets to live it? The baby didn't get to grow up? And experience what? Racial, sexual, religious, caste, financial bigotry? There are things that are good in this life, but there are a hell of a lot of things that really suck. Illness. Injury. War.

If heaven is what we believe it to be - and yes, I do believe it is, and more - then even a baby missing out on this life has to be happy.

It's like when Jesus was going to cross to die. He told the weeping women to stop weeping for him. His time of suffering was about over. Life was about to get very good for him. "Weep for yourselves," he said. Why? Because they would be without him.

And that's the real reason we weep when someone dies. We are less concerned with what they will miss out from not being here than with us being without them. That's the real pain of death. Losing someone and not being able to find them again. You see, we all know the rule: we're not supposed to seek out death. We're to let him find us when it's time. To encourage us to obey we have all been given a sense of self-preservation. Otherwise, when someone especially loved died, those who especially loved them would simply follow.

The worst thing about babies, children, and young people in general dying is that we miss out on seeing them grow up. We miss out on experiencing their joys with them. We miss out on showing them love and comfort when things go badly for them. We don't get to share their lives. And that is true of older people who die, too. We want them around to share our lives with us. We want them to see our laughter, heal our hurts and wipe our tears. We don't have that when they die. And it hurts.

We get angry at God and say he was cruel to them to let them die. But the truth is, we are angry because he was cruel to us. He took someone we loved. And now we feel so alone.

I do not believe there is any scripture to support it, but I personally believe that God acts as a mediator between those of us who remain here and those who have gone to be with him. I don't think they can see or talk with us directly, but I do think God keeps them informed of what's going on in our lives. And I believe there is scripture to support their talking to God on our behalf.

The love which connected us when we were all here together remains. And I believe it still connects us. Why/how else is it that people can really feel the presence (sometimes) of those who have died? I think it's love. Like water seeping through the soil, love will ultimately find a way to bridge the distances. Until such time that we go to be with them again. And then others will wail and moan about how cruel God was to take us. And then we will seek to use our love to keep us connected with those who we left.

Probably not scriptural at all. But somehow I don't think I'm that far from the truth.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Three in One

While we (Spouse, Son and myself) have not had to endure great quantities of snow thus far, portions of Minnesota have been deluged. What we have had around here is ice. Lots of it. Thick. And slippery. Just the other day I went down like a sack of potatoes. In front of witnesses. No real harm done. A bit of a bruise on my knee and hand. Could have been worse. Much worse.

It got me to thinking. I remember when I was seventeen and driving on ice to school.

It was after The Old House had burned. In fact, it was the winter Daddy died. Not long after, in fact.

I was staying with my older sister who lived in Coon Rapids. That was about ten to twenty miles away from my high school. Since I was a senior I opted to continue at my regular school rather than finish up at at new school. So I would drive every morning and afternoon.

Now this particular morning I got up to find a freezing rain falling. I was going to be late. Nothing to do about it. I would have to drive slow.

Only driving slow didn't help me this particular morning. The ice was wet and so particularly slippery. I discovered exactly how slippery as I crested a hill and began a long descent to a low place which crossed a small creek. To my horror the back of the car began to pass the front. I steered toward the slide, but the car refused to straighten out.

Now I did not go off the road and into the creek. Fortunately, someone of clever thinking and foresight had installed posts alongside the rode to prevent this very occurrence. So when the car reach the first post the back end struck it, causing the car to swing around the other way. Now I frantically steered the other way. Of course there was an oncoming vehicle.

How we missed I'm not sure, but my car struck a post on the opposite side of the road and swung back to the original. I think it was at this time the two vehicles passed each other. I hit another post, but now I had reached the bottom and was now on my way back up. This allowed me to regain control of my car and straighten it out.

I pulled over to the side and used a tow chain to pull the fender away from the tire. Then I got back in and started off again.

Just a few miles down the road I came to a "T" intersection. My road was heading slightly downhill, and as I pumped the brakes I realized I was not going to stop. My only hope was that there was no cross traffic. There wasn't, but I slide right across the road and into a shallow ditch which made up the front yard of a one of my classmates. Since it was shallow I just floored it and got out.

All was fine from then on until I got one block away from school, at which time I hit another untenable patch and found myself on a church lawn.

Off the road three times in one trip. It remains my personal record to this day. Fortunately, but the time school was out the sun had managed to melt off the ice and I had no trouble getting back to my sisters.

Gotta be careful with ice.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A New Year and a New Chance

The holidays are over for this year. Back to the grind.

That's how Son feels about it. Boring as it is living in an apartment filled with boxes packed with things we're rapidly forgetting are there, returning to school is hardly the compensation he was looking forward to for his stoic patience in being cooped up here with me.

We have spent the past ten or so days alternating time on the computer, although of late he has rediscovered his Wii and GameCube. Also, Spouse had the day off yesterday and the two of them played Sarge's War. The game does allow up to four players, but only two can comfortably get in front of the television right now.

Last week I actually got myself signed up for a job. Turned out I fell for a scam. Now, today, I have to set about getting myself extracted from it before they start charging our bank account $100 each month.

I know. I know. I'm supposed to be smarter than that, and I really am. Usually. But things are tight here (and I don't mean drunk), and Spouse is all panicky, and so in desperation I leaped where I should have turned around and walked away. What galls me is that I really did know better. But it was just easier to go along than stand firm. Most of Spouse's ideas for me to work are fairly - crazy, to put it mildly - and I know how it must sound when I explain I simply do not have the health to do some of the things suggested, or the skills to do others. So I gave in. It may cost us. We'll see.

Other than that I did actually visit my mother. Twice. The first was the Christmas get together she had at her place. The second was New Year's Day. She took Son and me out for an afternoon lunch at Old Country Buffet, an all you can eat buffet. The food is pretty good. And after eating the same three things over and over again it was actually quite good as a change of pace.

I am setting goals for myself to write. A lot. We'll see how it goes. This is not a resolution. Resolutions are like promises, and I won't make a promise I cannot promise I can keep. Goals are desires. They are things we can work toward. We don't know if we'll make them, but we can try. That is how I intend to approach it. My goal is to write a million words in 2010. This will mean a lot of writing. Even more than 2009, when I came a few thousand words short. But I still think it's reasonable to believe I can make it.

It's going to be odd, I think, not having Son about today. I expect Firestar to cry a lot. He's not real keen on changes. He freaked out for two days when Son didn't go to school. Now he's going to freak out again because Son is. Silly cat.

But I know how he feels.