Helpless to Help

Today I had an eye-opening but ultimately unproductive discussion with someone I care about dearly. This person refused my help. They specifically requested that I do not treat them any different and that I treat them like normal. They didn’t want any resources even though they appreciated the offer. They told me they didn’t want what I offered. They told me they didn’t think they needed it and did not find it helpful in general. They said they’ve tried it and did not benefit. They had their own way.

 

They are right, of course. Unwanted help is no help at all. And I am not wrong. We hold very different views in some fundamental ways. No one did anything wrong today. We felt what we felt. We said what we said. We told what we held true, and just couldn’t get anywhere. I am learning a truly difficult lesson.

 

My heart is heavy and it hurts. But I had to stop forcing the issue. I have to accept that everything I want to give, stops at the boundaries of another human being. And rightfully so. I can’t tell people what they need or want. All that I can offer is of course of no benefit when it is not wanted. I have to face that, for all I can do, there is still so much I just can’t.

 

I feel awful. I feel lost. It’s not my fault, and it’s not anyone else’s either. That sucks. But what can I do? I can just feel how I feel. I can sit with it, breathe it out, and get back up again. I can keep going. I said my offer did not expire, and I can make absolutely sure that I’m good for it. I can still learn, too. I can change. I can do better. So I didn’t help today, I guess I’ll just have to be here tomorrow, and every day after that.

Poetry Ptuesday: The Meaning of Life by Nancy Fitzgerald

[This week’s poem arrives later than usual, my apologies. Tomorrow would have been Amanda’s 35th birthday. It is the third one after she killed herself. I always wonder about that. Did she think of how many more birthdays she would not have? Or take last month, how many more Mother’s Day(s)? Or, since she committed suicide two days before Thanksgiving, did she think about that one? (Confession: I had to look this up, I’d forgotten the date Thanksgiving fell on that year.) Or all the new Thanksgivings after that? I had planned a menu that Thanksgiving. I heard from Mini’s dad in the afternoon. The next day I still went grocery shopping. I had a spreadsheet for all my items I made before I knew my sister was dead. In a really crowded market I answered the call from an organization that coordinates organ donation, and heard this man tell me that it was too late for harvesting to be viable. Then I must have gone home and cooked. Perhaps tomorrow I will cook too. I guess even if it doesn’t feel like it, we’re incredibly lucky to have so many more meals and days we don’t even have to think about before they’re already past us.]

 

The Meaning of Life

There is a moment just before

a dog vomits when its stomach

heaves dry, pumping what’s deep

inside the belly to the mouth.

If you are fast you can grab

her by the collar and shove her

out the door, avoid the slimy bile,

hunks of half chewed food

from landing on the floor.

You must be quick, decisive,

controlled, and if you miss

the cue and the dog erupts

en route, you must forgive

her quickly and give yourself

to scrubbing up the mess.

 

Most of what I have learned

in life leads back to this.

 

Ace That Test: The Civics Test for U.S. Naturalization

Okay, so y’all know Ace That Test was a real thing with my late sister Amanda. And though I didn’t receive as much formal schooling, and generally fared worse considering the whole of our academic careers, my sister and I are/were both big fans of tests. I know that traditional, standardized testing is a whole tub of worms, but yours truly is basically just a chimp who selfishly enjoys the instant gratification of reading a problem and knowing the answer. Few feelings to me compare to that mixture of satisfaction, relief, and excitement.

 

Well anyway, after many long years, I now have one test coming up! It’s uniquely structured in that up to ten out of a pool of the same hundred questions are given every time. Which means, as long as you know all 100 answers, it’s impossible to get less than a perfect score. So, what’s left to do but make a study guide?

(more…)

Poetry Ptuesday: The Journey by Mary Oliver

On day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice–

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do–

determined to save

the only life you could save.

 

*

 

(for Mini)

Poetry Ptuesday: Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

[Desiderata: something considered necessary or highly desirable.]

*****

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,

and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender

be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;

and listen to others,

even the dull and the ignorant;

they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,

they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,

you may become vain and bitter;

for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;

it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs;

for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;

many persons strive for high ideals;

and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.

Especially, do not feign affection.

Neither be cynical about love;

for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment

it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,

gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,

be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,

no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,

no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,

whatever you conceive Him to be,

and whatever your labors and aspirations,

in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,

it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

*****

[I’ve decided I’m going to start typing each Poetry Ptuesday instead of copy-and-pasting. I enjoy spend this time with the words, and I apologize for any mistakes. I do triple check.]

 

Happy Tuesday 🙂

Starting Today: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

I started this yesterday but I heard you can go on the internet and lie 😉

 

Here are the first lines:

 

“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet. 1977, May 3, six thirty in the morning, no one knows anything but this innocuous fact: Lydia is late for breakfast.”

 

“Everything I Never Told You” is Ng’s debut novel. Hulu optioned her second full-length novel “Little Fires Everywhere” for adaptation into a series.

Ng’s favorite contemporary works include The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, Beloved by Toni Morrison, Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, and Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout. (from her Wikipedia page). I own and have read Beloved. I own and have not read The God of Small Things, and do not own the other two books on the list. I think I just figured out what I’ll read next 😉

 

Happy Monday.

 

 

 

Final Lines Friday: Salt Houses by Hala Alyan

Earlier this week I finished Salt Houses, finally. Can y’all believe I started it at the end of March?! Nevertheless, here it is, the final lines:

 

“The song alights within Alia, a remembering akin to joy. Her mother’s garden, a courtyard somwhere in Kuwait, as she sang to a baby at her own breast. She sits in the dark, listening to the ancient, salvaged music.”

Booties I Have No Business Buying: The Velvet Collection

This is made by Dries Van Noten. I’m unfamiliar with the brand. I don’t know if they’re ethical or fair trade or “green”. I don’t even know if they’re comfortable. All I know is I don’t need it.

When will I wear this? The correct answer is “never”. Currently, I have this one pair of pinkish/nude-to-me-ish pumps, plain as can be, with a wooden stacked heel and I’ve started to think of that different-colored heel as distracting and hard to match outfits to. These booties are far too advanced for me.

I frankly enjoy the antique vibes these are sending me, but I can barely dress myself in rags and I don’t need the psychological challenge these would present.

Now this is a bit psychedelic colors meet I don’t even know what kind of embroidery. But obviously I am not this cool, and I’ll never be this cool.

… and an electric blue sequins sequinsed? stiletto pair for good measure.

 

Happy Thursday y’all, and remember, don’t buy dumb stuff.

(S)LOW BUY: April 2019 Spending Breakdown

I know every month I change things up, but I’m learning that curbing unnecessary spending involves fighting a moving target. When I started spending breakdown for January, I had a problem buying random stuff online I don’t need. It turns out, when you address spending honestly and a pattern of frivolity stares right back in your face, it becomes pretty easy to cut out those types of charges. During my review of purchases the next month, I noticed that I tended to let purchases made on Amazon slide, because I mentally designated them as convenient and useful. I learned I needed to guard against laxness on this front.

So in March, with my online shopping and even buying from Amazon more under control, I looked at every unusual purchase I made. Good or bad, if they’re not in the realm of baseline spending (gas, groceries, and other consumables), I noted the purchase. Even having cast a broader net, I felt that my only truly unnecessary purchase was the one made at a convenience store in the airport.

That made me think though, I don’t just go to convenience stores in airports! Much to my detriment, a Wawa opened near me. Another big convenience store sinkhole for me happens en route to and from NY, where we often travel. I didn’t used to consider these unnecessary purchases, because we always buy drinks and food. Often the purchase constitutes a meal, so it’s easy to justify as necessary. But I know that by planning ahead, I can preempt these types of purchases. While traveling it would save me time on the road, money, and I can make healthier choices by preparing the food myself.

But let’s take a closer look at April first:

April 3 — $166.17 at The Container Store — so y’all remember how I was organizing my arts and crafts cabinets? I found containers that were the perfect size for the cabinets and created an easy filing system so I bought more.

April 5 — $15.67 at Refresh and Co. and $23.29 at Food Court — spent while traveling. I am still deciding what conveniences are worth a premium to me, and since I’m not a fan of rest area food offerings, I shouldn’t be paying that markup.

April 8 — $3.29 at Wawa — I bought an energy drink because I didn’t want to make coffee.

April 10 — $100 at Free Library of Philadelphia — This is my first time donating to them. The problem is I donated because they were offering a free tote bag. That was not a good reason, and even when giving to charity, I should scrutinize my motivations.

April 10 — $19.96 and $11.71 on Amazon.com — I bought reusable straws and Feeling Good: They New Mood Therapy by David Burns for my dad. The book came recommended by someone I admire who also suffers from depression, and I thought my dad might find it useful. I could’ve looked harder for these items in person at places I already go, but 1) I didn’t want to end up buying plastic straws in a pinch and 2) I don’t go to bookstores currently as I’m trying to read what I own.

April 13 — $7.02 at Wawa — energy drinks and snacks breakfast.

April 17 — $12.19 at Wawa — energy drinks and snacks dinner.

April 20 — $45 at MSG Merch — we took my dad to watch boxing. I bought a hoodie I didn’t like, because I was cold and ;’odidn’t bring one of my many, many sweaters that I do like.

April 20 — $25.00 and $39.52 on Amazon.com — these were presents for someone’s birthday.

April 22 — $33.16 at Z Market — rest area breakfast for three on the road with my dad.

April 24 — $5.13 at Wawa — energy drink and snacks breakfast.

To sum up, I spent $72.12 at rest stops, which I could have avoided by preparing my own drinks and snacks before trips. I spent $27.63 on 3 meals from a convenience store, whereas I could have eaten better for cheaper by planning ahead. I also spent $45 on clothes due to lack of foresight. These are the main areas I would like to tackle as well as continuing my vigilance against thoughtless online purchases. Overall though, I’m happy that developing the habit of honestly reviewing my purchases is making me a more careful and conscientious consumer.

Until next time, squirrel friends, happy Wednesday!

Poetry Ptuesday: Wonder by Maya Angelou

A day

drunk with the nectar of

slowness

weaves its way between

the years

to find itself at the flophouse

of night

to sleep and be seen

no more.

 

Will I be less

dead because I wrote this

poem or you more because

you read it

long years hence.

 

%d bloggers like this: