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Feeling Lucky?

sea of lilacs

During my quick gasp back into the blog world last week, I briefly mentioned my struggle with the whole faith vs. luck conundrum. Seems I’ve lost faith but believe in luck.

I mean, keep praying for what? That circumstances will change? That a hole in the knees from excessive kneeling will eventually produce desired results? And if and when something does change, no matter how small, that this was all due to prostrating myself? I should see this as proof of divine intervention?

Should I interpret the overwhelmingly pure and fragrant waft of lilac bushes as a ‘sign’ that things will be better? Or that it was just plain ol’ luck that on a day that I needed to uplifted that I happened to pass by that small forest of lilacs and smiled out of control just because the scent permeated my senses?

I’ve had enough of waiting for miracles that never happen. I’ve taken the belief that nothing is received through an unseen force, but instead, anything received is taken by force. By that I mean anything that I receive is as a result of my getting to it.

BigLittleWolf mentioned in a response comment to my last post:

That said, we can exercise the courage to pull back when we need to, and the courage to put ourselves “out there” as well. One helps us heal; the other increases the statistical probability of being a recipient of a little good luck. Or maybe even, a lot.

I’m more believing that putting myself out there  increases my chance at ‘luck’.

God knows that praying hasn’t helped.

 

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The Blotted Blemish

Sometimes when the crash is too intense, one has the option of simply losing themselves. That’s what I chose to do. After my dream was over, it was easier for me to lose track of time, to ignore the event and place one foot in front of the other in some lackadaisical semblance of, and attempt at ‘this too shall pass’.

School is a fantastic way to simply plow through days and nights. Children laughing (or fighting) helped to grease the passage of time, and just plain old ignoring it saw the night/day axis blur for a few months. Determination to rebuild new dreams – if only for spite, bolstered defenses. The biggest casualty lost was my faith. I thought “is it faith or luck’? Turns out I now believe more in luck.

Whatever the method I chose day-to-day, brings me back here once again.

My Big 5? I am a workhorse where I am right now. School is where my heart is and I’ve an ‘A’ average and am trying, despite severe money woes, to stay pat. Dating … not so well. Faith has been released to the wind. Accomplishments come steadily, but so slowly.

Time has moved and taken me with it. Still here. Here again, moving up.

The sun has risen again.

The Dream Is Over

I remember the time I pulled the rear bumper off of my car thinking I had the perfect solution.

A neighbor from across the street at my old house had purchased new property and they were about to begin construction on it. Knowing how much I loved gardening she suggested that I get to her new property and take as many blueberry bushes as I wanted. All I had to do was dig them up. I was chilled, that’s how excited I was at the prospect of having mature blueberry bushes! I arrived at her property with a pick, shovel and well-worn work gloves.

Surveying the bushes, I appraised a few that looked well-rounded and plump and began digging around the roots. Trouble was I soon found out, wild blueberry bushes have deep and hearty roots. For a few hours I picked, shoveled and tugged at a few bushes but still couldn’t pull one bush fully out of the ground. So, I had an idea. I would wrap some rope I had in the trunk around the exposed roots, tie the other end to my car’s rear bumper and simply pull them out! Why didn’t I think of that before?

Sweating, but determined, I tied the knots as tightly as I could on both ends, took off my gloves (which revealed a few open blisters on my right hand), and started up the car. I gently pulled forward so I could see that the slack in the rope was gone and carefully pushed down on the accelerator. After a few tentative rocking motions nothing happened. I could see as I leaned out of the driver’s side door that the rope was taught and that the bush was slightly leaning toward the car, but no hint of uprooting showed itself. So I pressed heavier on the gas pedal. Still, no giving up the ground for that blueberry bush!

Bolder, I backed up maybe ten feet and decided that building some speed would pluck it out of the ground as easily as plucking one of the juicy berries would be. One foot on the gas, the other halfway out the door and my head cocked toward the rear, I bolted. The ten feet took only a slight moment to cover, but I remember the sharp buck of the car at the end of the ten feet and the slam of the brake at probably foot number fifteen.

I hurried out of my car and could see the damage I had done even before I strode to the passenger door. Fifteen feet away, the blueberry bush stood – still solidly rooted in its original spot. Tied to its exposed roots was the rope. On the other end of the rope was my car’s rear bumper, pulled much closer to the bush than to my car by the force of the pull.

Eventually, I decided that with all the investment of time and effort I had put in, not to mention my car’s rear bumper, that bush was going to be mine no matter how it happened. I left the site, drove back to my house, came back with an old saw and cut those roots one at a time until I could pull out the bush and hoist it into my trunk – dirt, stray leaves, bugs and anything else that was attached.

I planted that bush in a special spot in my beloved garden and tended it daily for most of the first few weeks in its new location. In the next few years it prospered, giving up wonderfully deep blue/purple berries that satisfied both the wild life that happened upon the free feast, local kids that regularly came to pick a mouthful (and stained their clothes) while playing in the neighborhood and enough left over for my own family to incorporate them into pancakes, muffins, ice trays and daily round the clock snacks.

I remember my little girl, who must have been about four or five at the time, in a billowy yellow sundress and a white, wide-brimmed sunhat jumping sideways, circling the bush singing “Here we go ’round the blueberry bush, the blueberry bush …” and laughing her little girl giggle as she sang and pulled berries into her mouth.

I remember both of my boys helping me dig a pit to plant the huge bush in. And after the initial deluge of water for the bush, how we swung into an impromptu water hose fight. We sat down in the wet soil, shared sips of iced tea and I remember hugging them both – one on either side of me.

I loved that blueberry bush.  Read more…

The Amount Of Time – Turned

It’s mainly about grasping the gift.

Before I even turn the knob and open the door inward, before I pull the key out of the lock I have a smile that tightens my face. Stepping in I take note of the pugnent apple and cinnamon candle scent that remains still alive, drifting lazily throughout the apartment. She had brought it over with a red bow tied around its girth and placed it center on the table and lit it right away. Tonight there was a note leaning against it, a folded sheet of expensive parchment that when spread open announced “This weekend can’t come soon enough”.

The warm, illuminating lamp light revealed the scores of changes, many of them subtle, that she has made since we’ve been dating. Irregularly spaced framed photographs have been replaced or rehung in new locations in order to mix tastefully along with new artful prints, and a newly installed corner shelf holds an African Violet that she had saved, newly budded with red points and a tender, new ivy plant, its vines full and cascading. Bright and boldly ornate contemporary throw pillows have been strategically placed on the sofa, love seat and chair giving them a new look and a quick glance make them appear not my own.

The windows are graced with thin, white horizontal poles, newly installed also, upon which hang differing lengths of shepards canes that hold plants of all colors – some I had never seen before, a new rug centered and fixed attention to the living room with its red and light brown pattern and a green wire room divider had been chosen for the wide space of white, near the door, and had a leaf pattern that now hold additional hanging pictures, in framed lockets, of my children.

It had taken some getting used to, the orderly yet comfortable ambiance that had taken hold here. The new and inexpensive backsplash gazing from the stove, the countertop that was converted from a catch-all to a colorful and functional area of culinary inspiration, the bed was given additional height by the twelve inch posts put under each of its four corners, the shiny and satiny feel of six hundred thread sheets made me feel more comfortable with the fact that they were a shade of deep, heart red, and the wide-eyed astonishment that I first had as she laced and looped the multiple tails of a vividly adorned kite (of all things imaginable) between drop-ceiling tiles, was replaced with excitement and contentment at being led out of my stulted knowledge of decor as she tied tiny strings to the body, which let it hang and float just inches from their anchor.

The note, still held in hand, had a post script. It said “Turn on the TV and play the video”. I noticed that the disk player was open and a disk placed into it was labeled in black marker “Play Me”. I sat on the couch, the middle cushion, the one with the most comforting give to my frame, and with the remote control, pressed ‘Play’. She had turned the recorder to herself and I could tell from what she wore that it was recorded the night before. I could hear water sizzling in the background and knew that it was recorded while I was in the shower. She was giggling as she spoke.

“I want to tell you that I am so happy that we’ve met. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve laughed so hard and for that alone, I thank you. I find myself thinking about you all the time now – at work and at home. I guess that I simply want to tell you how much you mean to me and that I’m glad that we have each other. And I’m looking forward to seeing you this weekend. Bye!”

Read more…

Supporting Them

 

When I became divorced, there was never an issue of supporting my children. While I am aware that a lot of men have issue with paying, or the pay amounts, I chose the opposite. My lawyer gave me a figure that stated the amount that she was going for and because I didn’t know any better, I agreed to the sum. Later, I began reading online and found a calculator provided by the state as to general guidelines. I filled out the form and found to my astonishment that I could be paying more!

I approached my lawyer at the next meeting, provided her with the material and said that I wanted to pay the maximum amount by law. She advised me against it, but after all, they are my angels, my light, the reason for trying to achieve a better future for them and my only family on earth. Why wouldn’t I want to give them as much as I can? The order was changed to the maximum amount and I’m proud to tell anyone that I pay faithfully, and on time, each and every week.

When I was out of a job last fall into winter, I let the ex know what was happening and that I was struggling and would pay her what I could – even as I edged closer to homelessness without a weekly  paycheck. I did payed what I could – an over payment, an underpayment, but I tried to keep it going even as I was unemployed. Even as I went out on endless and unproductive interviews. Even as Thanksgiving and Christmas were creeping closer and becoming unavoidable.

Then, she notified Child Support and told them she was not getting child support. A further move by her that caused me heartbreaking grief and wrenching disgust, was that she decided to not tell them of the amounts that I had given to her by hand. As far as the ‘system’ had been aware, I had simply stopped paying anything at all.

One morning early last month, I woke up, fixed a cup of tea, and sat to check bank balances. I was stunned to find that my account was frozen – a lien had been enforced by the state division of Child Support. I could not even withdraw money to pay for gas which would allow me to travel to work 22 miles away. I don’t have sick time accumulated yet. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Without pay I can not meet any financial obligations – rent, phone, electricity, basic cable. Child support.

I declined to put up a post at the time about the tale of having my assets frozen. It’s humuliating having that done. It’s a desperate situation that stops your heart and has you thinking lunatic thoughts. It’s embarrassing knowing that you are unable to gain the necessary money to support your children. And mostly, it was a deepening of the chasm that seperated me and the ex because she had verbally said to me that she would be fine with repaying the back amount on a weekly basis as I could afford it while I was searching for employment.

Plans for children do not stop. There are sports to be paid for, gas for two and three times a week pickups and drop offs, groceries to be bought and entertainment for them. All while unemployed.

Then she notified child support.

I was devestated.

Thankfully, I now have a job. I have a paycheck that again has my child support taken out automatically, I have weekly taxes to pay and I have a new health plan that decimates my weekly check. All this on less money – much less money, than I was earning at my last position.

Read more…

When I Win

I mentioned before that I’ve teamed up with a woman who has been unbelievably lucky at the lottery. She’s won mid-level prizes in the past year which include a scratch for $10,000. It’s uncanny how often, and how much, she wins.

So I offered to go in with her. I’d pay the same amount as she would and we would split the prizes. I started off by giving her $20. I figured that we would play a few times a week and go from there. In total, I believe that since we started doing this at the end of January I’ve given her an out-of-pocket total of $60 – far more than I should be giving out.

As I think while sitting here, I am unable to come up with the total amount that we have won. But I can tell you that the two largest tickets that we’ve hit on are a $1,000 ticket and two $500 tickets! In between we’ve been playing constantly – daily … with money that we’ve won! Each and every day we win between $20 – $100 dollars. Each day! And we continue to play every day – with money that we keep winning!

When the amount of the daily winnings get to about $75 or so, we play smart. Half of the winnings gets split between the two of us, and we play the other half. So, for instance, two days ago we won $110, we split $60 between us, $30 apiece, and played the remaining $50. Every day I’m getting cash amounts ranging from $20 to $75 or so handed to me. Cash. Cash that I put away in a safe. A dollar amount that is large enough for me to pay cash for two items that I’ve long lusted after. A large screen TV to replace the old one that was given to me (which sports in the upper left hand corner a permanent splash of green from the aging picture tube), and a new computer to replace the one I use now that is slow, painfully slow.

She keeps saying that we are about to win a large amount. A really large amount. I’m excited within reason of course, but I occasionally let my mind wander.

People often ask each other what they would do if they ever won ‘the big one’. I already know what I’d do.

Read more…

Tenacious Me (finale)

So far, I’ve for all practical purposes lost the ability to use my LG Chocolate Touch phone that was only ten months old, taken said phone to the local Verizon store only to be ignored and left waiting for a supervisor that took ten full minutes before she showed up and told me she couldn’t help me, watched from my car as the store employees peered at me from their window perch, called Customer Service and talked to ‘Ed’, was forced to tell my full-length story for the fourth time and was left with the information that all I could do was ‘grin and bear it’ by reverting back to my old phone .

I don’t do well with ‘grin and bear it’ when it comes to giving my hard-earned cash to corporations for the priviledge of using one of their products! I’m determined that they be the ones to ‘grin and bear it’ if they have any intentions of keeping my business.

After I came home, I was still seething from the very bad customer service experience I received at the Verizon store, and although I now had a work-around that allowed me to use an old cell phone, I was more than dissatisfied with looking at the husk of my LG Touch. I was determined to receive satisfaction!

I went to the Verizon online site and signed on to my account. I must have spent close to ten minutes looking for the customer service number! Do they intentionally hide it? I think that they might because right around the ten minute mark, a box popped up with a message asking if I would like to chat with a Customer Service representative. I thought “Here we go again!”, but clicked to accept.

  • A moment later ‘Emma’ wrote a line that said something similar to “I’ll be with you in a moment”.
  • Almost a full five minutes of waiting passed before  I wrote ‘Hello?’
  • A minute later a line appeared that said something similar to “I’ll be with you in a moment”.
  • Almost another full five minutes later I wrote ‘Hello?’
  • A minute later a line appeared that said something similar to “I’ll be with you in a moment”. I was about to go through the proverbial roof.
  • I wrote and asked if there was an issue with my account that she had been looking up or if she was on multiple calls at once or what the issue was that caused her to take so very long to at least acknowledge me.
  • A minute later a line appeared that said something similar to “I’ll be with you in a moment”.

At that moment, I found the 800 Customer Service number and dialed it. I had to go through the keypad maze of selections but eventually found my way to ‘Paul’ – a real live Customer Service representative! I immediately clicked ‘Close’ on the so-called conversation I had been having with Emma.

  • I again trotted out my lengthy story – leaving out no detail at all – he got the whole saga
  • I added to the story mye Verizon store experience
  • I added in the work-around of having to use my old phone
  • I added in the online chat with Emma from Customer Service
  • I added in that I’m about to go T-Mobile on them and I’m not sure if he would be able to help me at all!

I must have taken a full 7-10 minutes of ranting (politely, but very firmly, mind you) about how badly Verizon had treated me and because of it how I would buy out my contract, spread the word to everybody at my place of business and to my friends of how poorly I had been treated and how Customer Service was used in name only.

Paul calmly took down each and every word. He took names, he took locations and he took times. He told me that he was there to fix my issue and keep me as a Verizon customer – no matter what he had to do.

Turns out that Paul was as tenatious as I was.

Read more…

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