Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy, Happy, Happy

“If you haven’t looked in that box in a long time, don’t. Just take it straight to the trash.” I don’t know how many times these past few months I’ve been told that. But I couldn’t with this box. There was something about this one that tickled the back of my mind. I had to examine it closely.

The box had been packed since we lived in Hampton. It could even have been as far back as Kensington and we moved from that town in 1998 which meant the contents inside are older than that. The white cardboard is not a stiff as it once was and the tape is discolored and not sticking well; again, a sign of age. I remember this box sitting unopened in the third floor of the Hampton house.

Whatever, it feels forever ago since I viewed the items. Wait, it can’t be that long. I must have done a quick look at one time because there’s a date on the side of the beat-up cardboard stating “gone thru 2006;” which is the year I moved to Bradford, so I at least did a quick look before I moved.

I pull on the loose end of tape and it comes off easily. Older tape underneath is brittle. I open the flap with a sneeze as dust flies up in my face. The top layer is yellowed, crumpled, old newspaper. I pull out the uppermost ball and hear a trickling of small items tumbling down the inside of the box and a glass “chink.” Oh, I remember! These are gem stones.

I pull out the next batch of paper with more care. This one has a little weight and I cradle the weighted part in one hand and peel back the layers of paper.

“Yes! Finally! Light!” 

The words are whispered in my brain as if something has been released. In my hand is a small bowl full of polished stones; stones that have energy, stones that heal. (At one time I was really into it when I had my massage business.) I pull the bowl out of the paper and set it on the table. There is a happiness radiating from the stones that is almost palpable to me. That radiance reaches across the room.

I scoop a few stones into my hand. Agate, fluorite, lepidolite, hematite, crystal, citrine, malachite, and rose quartz… the names come to mind. I remember. I remember these stones. I love stones, have always loved stones. They call to me. (Stones always do.) These stones are so grateful to be brought out into the light. I can feel it.

I turn back to the box. The next layer is wrapped in old clothes; a bigger bowl, more stones and a fancy stand for the bowl to sit in. Other stones and rocks are unpacked. Some stones are local, ones I picked up while walking wooded trails or the beach, and will go out to enhance the flower gardens. But the gem stones are amazing. Some are pointed on one end and shaped as “wands.” There are pyramids, balls, and egg-shaped stones along.

I finish unpacking the box coming across a couple of amethyst clusters. Down the bottom is an old rabbit fur on which I used to set my stones. That, too, is disintegrating which adds to the dust. I dig out all the stones that fell to the bottom of the box. Oh, they are beautiful and are happy to be brought into the light.

The bowls are washed. The box and all the wrappings will got out to the trash. I will have to find a place in every room for a small bowl of stones. I can’t get over how much good energy is coming from the stones! How could I have hidden them away for so long? The will bring such good energy to this new house. What joy!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Walls and Paint and House in Upheaval

I thought when the painters came they would do one room at a time. Instead, they’ve torn all the rooms being painted apart moving furniture and piling everything into the middle. All the previous work at organizing seems moot. 

That’s not really true because in the organizing, I did get rid of a lot of stuff and it did give them space to move things around. They would not have been able to get to the walls in the back rooms before this past week. I had way too much stuff!

Maybe it would have been different if they didn’t need to prime. They wanted to prime each room before starting to paint which means that everything is in disarray. At least they haven’t touched my work space, yet, which has allowed me to keep working.

The master bedroom and bath are done except for touch ups and I need to paint the receptacle covers. I was a little hesitant about purple on the walls, but I love it. I’m still trying to decide how to arrange the bedroom; not that I have a lot of space due to the room size and door and window placements.

One thought that hit me as I was trying to sleep last night was to get rid of the huge mirrored dresser that I’ve had for 40 years. Yikes, has it been that long? The thing is huge and is too bulky for the room. Could I get something smaller? That would work better in the size bedroom I now have.

The living room, dining/work room, halls, and guest bath are also done and they are now doing the two spare bedrooms. Those rooms have the most stuff in there as a lot will be storage. I wasn’t originally going to be able to do those rooms at this time, but because Nan has helped me get rid of a lot, it’s now possible.

The guys are doing a fantastic job! I am very pleased.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

You Can’t Write Like You Talk

Writing is not the same as speaking. I say this often. When talking, the mind is trying to come up with words in the moment to convey the point of view while the mouth has to speak the words. Sometimes the flow is smooth, but often it is not. The mind works quicker than the tongue which can cause people to babble a bit as the mouth tries to catch up with the brain. 

Think about it. Think about the way you talk and the way those around you speak. Think about those you are able to carry on good conversations with and those who can drive you a bit crazy. (Not that they are bad people. It’s all in how one person speaks and another hears.) We all have our… ways. We may all speak the same language, but the understanding of how something is said could be totally different than what the speaker meant. 

It is also important to note that when speaking, the mind can be jumping all over the place. Words jumble around each other. Some things slip off the tongue easily while other thoughts are hard to put into words. Look how easy it is to misunderstand. Words are repeated, blank seconds are filled with “er” or “um” as the mind tries to find the correct words to get the point across. 

What does this have to do with writing? 

People don’t speak in full English-grammar-correct sentences. They tend to ramble, use idioms or phrases that do not translate well to the written page and some people repeat themselves, sometimes a lot. There are nuances in the spoken word that is hard to incorporate in the written word. 

Writing needs to be precise. Writing has… stricter, much stricter… rules. And there are rules for the type of writing being done. There is sentence structure and proper grammar and punctuation. What can be picked up in tone and body language from a speaker needs to be translated and described with words and again, depending on what’s being written, can you assume from that body language and tone or do you need to stick to the facts. 

As a writer, I have to be constantly on my toes depending on what I am doing. My daily journaling is open and I can use any style, though I try to follow rules to stay sharp. Working on a book takes a different mindset than writing articles or editing for the newspaper as does writing poetry. 

But even the book work has its variations. Writing from a personal point of view can be looser than recording information on historical facts. Newspaper work follows the AP style and there are certain formats to be adhered to that are different if following the “Chicago Manual of Style” (sometimes referred to as CMOS). 

Dialogue has its own spin. Writing dialogue can’t be put down on the page exactly as someone speaks. There is so much more to the spoken word that a reader would find boring, confusing, or too much to get through, etc. Plus, words cost money in the written world. How can you say what the speaker needs to say using fewer words? The dialogue needs to be catchy to the reader and draw the reader in to the character and the story.

Another side is, especially with newspaper reporting or doing interviews, is the all-important quote. When choosing to quote a speaker, strong statements or a sentence or two makes the point stand out and is exactly what was said. From there, the writer, in his own words, can take other comments and elaborate on the speaker’s point of view. This will enable the writer to choose the important words and not use the unnecessary words and sounds that a speaker will use while trying to get their comments out.

If a writer were to totally type out a complete spoken dialogue, the sentences would run together, there might not be full sentences and where would the punctuation go? Subjects are missing, verbs are misconstrued and thoughts can trail off... (which I tend to do which entails ellipses which are not conducive to good writing – and here is an example of repeated words). 

I am learning all the time with the newspaper business. Plus, for my own processing, I need to break things down and figure out why a rule is in place. I need to understand the why and sometimes it can take many go-‘rounds before I get it. Of course, this is just one tiny segment.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Minimalizing a Life after 60-Plus Years

I am again thinking about this whole aspect of downsizing; what it means, what you have to go through, the difficulties, etc. Sometimes stories need to be repeated. Sometimes you need to talk things over and over before it sinks in. That is definitely true with me. 

And so, even though I’ve talked about some of this before, I need to mention it again as I traverse the maze in my mind sorting through the situation. There are important tidbits to be gleaned about downsizing. We often talk about the need to do it, but when it comes down to the actuality of letting things go… there are excuses not to do so or reasons why such and such needs to be kept. You have to keep asking, “Why? Why do I need to keep this?”

There are many reasons. It’s been in the family for years. I might use it/fix it someday. So and so gave that to me. It’s pretty. It’s worth a lot of money or I paid a lot for it. There are memories. It’s mine. I like it. Think of reasons why you are hanging on to things. Do these items serve a purpose or are they just taking up space?

What happens when you get too much stuff? 

I couldn’t imagine going through all the accumulation of, not only physical personal possessions, but books, files, photo albums, things to work on later, and more, without help. I tried. I really did. 

I knew the move to Bradford was temporary and that when I was alone (except for kitty), I would have to move to a smaller home. I had the years before and after my mother’s passing to get rid of things. It didn’t happen. I’m terrible about this kind of thing. A part of me wanted to do it, but when I’d make an attempt, my brain would shut down. 

People advised to start with a corner, to set aside specific areas of keep, give away, and throw away. I still couldn’t do it on my own. The little girl hiding inside threw temper tantrums. “I don’t wanna doooo iiittt!” she’d scream, and I could see/feel her stamping her little feet. I’d go back to doing the more artsy things I preferred and nothing would get done.

The universe provided an opportunity I couldn’t refuse and once papers were signed on the Bradford property, I could no longer put off getting rid of things. And it needed to be done right away. But I still couldn’t start. One part of me knew what to do, but the other part of me would just wail, “I don’t know what to do!”

I had to take help when it was offered, which in itself was hard because I felt it was my responsibility. Nan McCarthy has proved priceless. While many others helped here and there and gave good advice, support, and sometimes carried things away, Nan would (and still does) come once a week and sometimes twice to help me go through things. She has been phenomenal! (She says it’s fun going through someone else’s stuff.) She is a minimalist and doesn’t keep anything she is not using.

Yes, I could have, should have on my own, but there is something about having another presence to help me make decisions, to push me to let go when I hang on too tight, to just be here as I look things over. What helps, too, is that she will physically take things out to the curb for free or to the dumpster. It’s one thing for me to say I don’t need it anymore; it’s another thing to actually take it out. Plus, if I don’t see it go away, it’s not so bad.

And so, we had another afternoon of unpacking, organizing, finding a home for keepers, and getting rid of things no longer needed. I am so pleased to say it’s finally coming together. I now have space to set up the floor easel which means I can finish the big drawings. (In unpacking drawing boards, we found six drawings in various stages and all in-process). 

I am happy to be getting rid of things. I love the idea of being less cluttered. I am ready to get back to doing art. (Of course, that is still on hold awhile longer as the painters will be here three or four days doing the walls. Oh happy day!)


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Transforming another Old Writing

Here is another piece I came across while going through old files. It was written after my last boyfriend left. I like it. The words speak volumes and transcend many kinds of loss.

Twenty Hours into the Grief

The moon shines through my window like a huge street lamp. Full, the rays spread out over the land, and if it were warmer, it would be a good night to dance naked.

I can’t, though. Not tonight. Not when my heart is aching and I am feeling such a loss. Not when my soul suffers the fresh scars of emptiness and abandonment. The lure of the moonlight is only a tease of what could have been.

She reaches for me. She wants to hold me, envelop me until I am well. She wants to tell me that I am finally free; free to be me, free to do what I want. 

But for now, the grief is too heavy. Her arms are not real arms; warm arms, human arms. Her arms are not the solid arms that once held me tight and made me feel safe and loved.

How can I possibly think of freedom when I am feeling terribly alone? I want to be held, but there is no one to “snuggy” me. I am alone in this big king-size bed feeling the loss. I can still smell his scent on the other pillow. Part of me feels numb, empty. Grief feels frozen on my skin.

There were things I loved about him besides the “snugginess.” He’d pat me like a cat until I practically purred. He played with my hair with a comforting touch.

He had his own special names for me. I don’t think he ever called me by my real name. When we were first together, he called me, “Girly,” until the other guys at work did so, too. When we were alone, he called me, “Tit-kit-pussy” and “Woofie.” Most of the time, he called me, “Poffie” (his spelling for it although he pronounced it “Poofie”). It was kind of endearing the way he’d say these names. Sometimes he called me “Piglet” or “Pig-head.” He didn’t use his demeaning voice, but I wasn’t too fond of these latter two names. 

I wonder what he calls his new love. I hope he uses new names for her.

Later tonight, the moon will pass over the house as I lie in bed. I’ll be able to see Her light through the skylight. She will remind me of things I am when I cannot sleep during these long dark hours. And although I will not fully listen, I am glad She is here.

I don’t want to think because to think is to feel and be lonely. Instead, I just might float on endless moonbeams hoping to get lost – but knowing I won’t. Perhaps, for now, floating in oblivion would be a good thing.

For over 20 years, my weekends and vacations were devoted to him. It feels strange not to have that to look forward to any more. What will weekends mean to me now? What will I do for vacations? It feels strange. What do I have to look forward to?

I have always wanted to hike, but he never wanted to. This could be my year for hiking.

There are all the art projects sitting in various stages of work in progress and ideas never put into reality. Maybe I can be the artist I always wanted to be.

I will let myself dream on the moonbeams and forget this loss. I am glad he moved on. Now I can, too.

Looking back on that night; that night over15 years ago, that night – I still remember how it felt as if it was yesterday, and yet, it almost feels like it happened to someone else. That me back then, that isn’t quite me, and yet, is me and the same me of today. I still feel the emotion because feelings of loss and abandonment are always recognizable and transcend time. I can change a few words and a bit of the situation and it is another loss with the same type of feelings. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Story vs. Photos

I was the butterfly yesterday. What do I mean by being the butterfly? It means that, like a butterfly, I flit from one flower (project) to the next. I do a little here, a little there then move on to something else – and none is necessarily related.

I do my morning journaling in long-hand. The blog is done on the computer. I open the pictures file and see what I can do with a photograph. Later I dove into the last box of old writings needing to be organized. There are emails to take care of from people looking to purchase items I have for sale and those from AuthorHouse about the marketing of my book. And there’s still more organizing and settling in to do.

No wonder by 5 p.m. my brain says, “Enough!” 

I am back at it by 5:30 the next morning (today). The journaling has me thinking about words/story versus photographs. In publishing, it’s either a book filled with words or a picture book. Stories are told either with the written word or pictures and when there are pictures in a text book, there are very few. I am determined to break that rule.

As a writer, photographer, and artist, the written word and pictures are equally important. Computers make working in multiple genres easier. Pictures can be put with written text and I can’t see why there can’t be more of a balance. I not only want to tell my stories in words, but I want to show the reader sites and sights that I saw. What’s wrong with that?

Oh, I know, color ink is more expensive than black.

I love what I do. I am excited about what I find and I want to show everyone and tell everyone about my adventures. I came across one of the photos from the 2013 trip to Florida. I had taken hundreds of pictures and only 50 made it into the book. What can I do with the rest? Some are amazing and show fascinating landscape and architecture. How can I share them and tell the story that goes with those scenes? (And this isn’t even about the similar trip taken in 2015 of which I am still writing the story… or rather, I want to get back to writing the story.)

The thought of having great photos that no one will ever see saddens me. So, how can I make this happen…

Monday, October 19, 2015

Sasha-fying the House

I’ve been here eight weeks. Eight weeks doesn’t sound like a long time, but it’s a long time for me not to feel… home. I look at the walls and feel it’s a place I am staying and not home even though Pele is here and all my possessions are here. I return to this building after running errands and feel like I am just coming to a place. There is no “this is mine” feel. It feels foreign.

A home is more than a place to live. A home needs to reflect the personality of the occupant. It’s not a place to simply touch base, but a place to be settled into, to feel safe and be comfortable. It’s that rock of solidity to return to after being out and about. It’s a place to be totally yourself and where you don’t have to “put on face” for anyone. 

This place is getting there. I like the smaller size and being on one floor. The rooms are big enough and there are not too many. The master en-suite renovation is complete but for the walls being painted and this has made a big difference. It may be a tiny bathroom, but the new walk-in shower, vanity, fixtures, and toilet make it special. After all, how much time do you spend in a bathroom? I can’t wait until the walls are painted and I can get the towel racks put up and a couple pictures on the walls. To get one room totally and completely done will be a big accomplishment.

Nan McCarthy has been phenomenal in spending at least one afternoon a week helping me to go through things, organize, and continue to make disappear what I don’t need. I don’t know what I would have done if not for her. We have made some great progress and I am finally starting to feel better about it all. (I have to admit, this was the hardest move I have ever made in my entire life of 60 plus years). 

The goal this week is to start painting the walls. The painter was supposed to start tomorrow (Tuesday), but is behind. “Customers keep asking for one more thing,” he explained. I totally understand and already have more to ask of him, too. He’s hoping to start Wednesday or Thursday which I interpret as maybe Friday and I know I may end up waiting until next week.

Why are painted walls so important to me? I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out how to explain it. People have come in and wondered why the neutral beige-grays are so appalling to me. Oh, I know the spiel: you add pops of color with window treatments and décor. But a “pop of color” isn’t enough.

For me, it’s almost like dull colors dull the brain. The neutral blah colors are just not me. They don’t make me happy; don’t give me the warm, fuzzy feelings. The blahness of the walls brings down my whole demeanor. The lack of pretty color is boring. It’s hard to feel motivated and with little natural light, it’s even more depressing.

How do I combat the less natural light? By having the walls painted a beautiful color! Oh, I’m not talking garish, fluorescents. The colors will be rich and vibrant. The wall color will show off my drawings and photographs. Perhaps this doesn’t conform to the current interior design trends, but these colors are for me. I don’t have to please anyone else and I don’t have to plan “… when you sell…” (One of my pet peeves is buying something and having them push the re-sale value. Hey, I’m just making the purchase. I don’t care about re-sale!) 

Of course this isn’t the end of the renovation, but Sasha-fying the inside will be a giant step and help get me through the long winter. 

And so, I can’t WAIT to get the walls painted! Then as I hang pictures, this place will truly become mine. I want to show it off. I hope you will want to visit.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Giving Up the Paints… But…

“I think I’ll give up painting,” I announced to Nan yesterday. 

“That would be wise,” she replied. “I see you first as a writer and photographer then the charcoal drawings. You don’t have time to paint.” Nan tried to push me into getting rid of all the painting supplies before I left Bradford. I hung on.

But I have to be realistic… don’t I? 

When was the last time I picked up a brush? I did take a few acrylic painting classes and one in watercolor a couple years ago to inspire me to get back into painting, but as with many things, I didn’t follow through. I spent a lot of money on new supplies and they just sat. Yes, I did start a few canvasses, but after the initial work, they just collected dust.

But I think about painting!

I feel in my mind and remember how the paint glides smoothly onto the canvas. I see colors and patterns. Every time I see a painting or talk with other artists, I think, I could do that (in my own style, of course). When I see artists on TV, I want to paint, too. I don’t do it, though. 

But I feel it in my heart. 

How can I turn my back on it, throw it all away? How can I watch the supplies go out the door? 

But… if I really feel it in my heart, wouldn’t I be doing it? Writing takes preference over everything and photography is a big part. And I think about the drawings, too, before painting. So, I have to admit, painting is far down the list. I can’t do it all and with the books I’m lining up to write, I will never have/find time to paint.

Oh, this is hard, this letting go. These are my canvases, my paints, my supplies. I can visualize pictures in my mind – my pictures. But they don’t get done.

Then there’s this: If my focus is divided, how am I to do a great job? Writing is my main focus. There’s already the division with photography and charcoal drawing added. Why would I want to add another medium when I find it hard to finish projects higher on the list? 

This house doesn’t have the extra space for storage anymore either. Getting rid of all the painting supplies would allow more room for the drawing easels and table space for matting and framing photographs. There would be less clutter and maybe the supplies would go to someone who would actually use them.

Can I do this? Can I let it all go? Words have run out. I’m stuck between should, being smart and realistic, and giving up a piece of what I thought was part of me.

But, was it part of me if I never did it?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I Could Write Forever

The colors of autumn reached the hollow where I live. Leaves that see less sun are turning bright yellow while those trees across the road that get more sun have leaves of vibrant red. I love the crispness of the days and the aromas wafting on the breezes. The brook babbles its song and a flock of over 20 grackles gather at the water’s edge.

Inside I go through boxes of files in an effort to reorganize. I’m down to the last box – writings. Here are various folders, years full of poems, stories, and other writings. I found a couple stories written in the 70s and one with markings from a high school teacher. 

How can I keep everything? How do I decide which to save?

Some writings move to the trash bag with reluctance while others are put aside. Some of the writings are inspiring. Some stir a yearning to dive back into the depths of whatever subject is on the pages. I could write forever. I could expand on topics as some of the emotions laid bare on those papers still carry to today.

I am reminded of the hours spent delving into those emotions – emotions which I find fascinating. The mind is amazing and I learn a lot from the ability at putting my feelings into words. There’s something about seeing the experience in words (even when I struggle to find the right words to convey those emotion… which is like a treasure hunt). The written words take understanding of the situation to another level. I learn my truth. I accept who I am.

What do I do with these old writings? They tell the story of who I was, but also lay the path to who I am today. How can I just throw them away? There’s a history here. There’s a book to be developed from all of this. 

I study emotion. I study my reactions to emotions, to feelings, to circumstances. I know, as I experience this journey of life, I am not alone. But how do I talk about this journey of sentiment? How do I make this life-travel one filled with excitement when I am crashing? How do I create joy from despair? And I do.

Writing makes my soul dance with joy. I climb mountains. I fly. I sing at the top of my lungs. Writing picks me up when I crash. It saves me from being lonely and heals me when my heart breaks. 

So, what do I do with my old writings? There is much more story and poems to tell. The new weaves from the old and becomes new again. It’s exciting. I wish these feelings of joy for everyone… and yet, I understand not everyone can understand… and that becomes more fuel for the writing fire. Let the flames fan high. My writing has been too quiet of late.

But right now I have to finish going through those old files of writings. How do I organize them?
(And don’t say organize them to the round file, ha ha.)

Friday, October 9, 2015

Missing a View

I’ve been mentioning how the inside of this house is so dark and that I need lights on all day. That’s a huge annoyance which has made me decide to put in skylights.

However, in the settling in and the organizing, I didn’t put much focus on the outside view – except to note that I have the wooded-area brook in the back and neighbors across the street and diagonal. Directly across is an empty lot with storage pod. The owners are keeping it nicely mowed and clean. Unless I go outside, I do not have a view to either side of the house. There’s a window in the door facing north, but no windows facing south (just as well as an admitted hoarder lives on that side). 

The trees are tall with evergreens of pine and hemlock and deciduous of oak, maple, and, oh dear, I can’t remember these others. The green of the deciduous have faded a little, but the leaves are still very much green with a little yellowing. I only have spotty glances of the sky looking out the back and a little open sky over the front lawn, road, and the vacant lot across the street. Basically, three sides of the house are surrounded by trees which keeps the inside of the house dark.

So, it wasn’t until I was away from the area and out of this “hollow,” that I realized just how much autumn has descended. The drive to Concord was beautiful with the yellows, reds, and orange showing up vibrantly against the cloudless, bright blue sky. It was hard to keep my eyes on the road and I wanted to stop a couple times to take photographs. (Unfortunately, it always seems the places I want to stop are not safe spots to pull over along the highway.) 

It dawned on me as I drove how much I miss the view from the Bradford home. That home allowed such a gorgeous view down across the field and up the mountainside. I bet the maple and oak trees along Pleasant View Road are vibrant with color and the field grasses a beautiful shade of deep yellow-gold. But I cannot allow myself to think of that.

(People have asked if I’ve ridden by the old house. No. Right now it would make me cry. Thinking about it causes my eyes to fill. No, I can’t go back now; not for quite awhile. I so loved the views from that house!)

Concord errands done, I returned to my dark house. I put up the bird feeders – at least I have my little birdies to enjoy; six cardinals, titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, hairy and downy woodpeckers and three red bellied woodpeckers. (The latter are special.) The brook is loud with its waters babbling over rocks on the way to Gould Pond. 

Inside I settle in waiting until the day when I can get the walls painted and bring happy colors inside.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Too Much Stuff

“You have TOO much STUFF!” Nan wails, but she also said she enjoys going through things and getting rid of them. She loves hauling stuff out to the trash or putting free boxes curbside. Her favorite motto is: Less is better.

After all the downsizing and getting rid of things before the move, it was shocking to see that I still had way too much stuff. There were boxes that I never went through in two previous moves; items still packed for the past 20 years. What does that say about what I need? I keep hearing the line that John Fogarty sings, “And someday-ee-ayyy, never comes.” Perhaps holding onto this stuff for “someday” really is foolish.

One thing I am noticing is that I can look at items once and not be willing to get rid of them, but I can look through that same box in another week and agree to get rid of some things. Checking that box later will find me getting rid of even more… maybe even the entire box. Perhaps I just have to have a certain readiness to let go. That first, almost a command of, I HAVE to, has me slightly rebelling. This is my stuff. I’ve had it for a long time.

Okay, that’s a clue right there. “I’ve had it for a long time” and if I still have it and it’s just sitting in a box, it’s not very useful, is it. Still, that initial, “Get rid of it,” has me saying no. Another time has me realizing that I really do not need it; it does not serve a purpose any longer.

Then there’s the fact that I am trying to better utilize the smaller living space and my goal is to be organized with everything having a proper “home.” I can’t do that if there is too much stuff. And why should I be moving the same box over and over? If it’s not being unpacked and the items used, what is the use of that stuff? It has no use. And now I don’t have the space to store unusable items. Things have to go, sometimes good things. But if they are no use to me, hopefully someone else can use them.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Automated Messaging

Yesterday I had to twice deal with big businesses (TDS and Eversource). Both times, when I finally got to a real person, they were helpful, however, getting to that point is horribly frustrating. (As a matter of fact, by the time I got through to a woman at Eversource, I was frustrated to tears and angry.)

These automated answering services “to best help you get you what you need” are a nightmare to get through. Half the time, the options given are not exactly what I need. And to have to “push one for English” and hearing “your conversation may be recorded” and go through listening to ads or messages before you can move on makes me want to scream. (With Eversource it was a whole list of what to do in an emergency). The list of options can be confusing. What number do I push? Then if you are put on hold to “wait for the next available technician,” you have to listen to obnoxious loud music.

I hate these automated message services. It’s rude and not customer friendly. The only ones who benefit are the head honchos and CEOs sitting in their ivory towers and collecting huge salaries while customers have to suffer. Good customer service -- just three meaningless words now-a-days; smoke and water to make people think the company really cares. The company does not care and with many companies like TDS and Eversource, you have little choice.

I am not just complaining about these two companies. Many businesses set up these automated systems. They don’t care. Automation means fewer salaries to pay, less real employees to deal with. They don’t have to deal with the frustration of making contact and companies that are huge with the home office in other states (or countries), it’s a convenience for the company itself. What it’s not is convenient or easy for customers or the employees on the other end of the phone (when you can reach one). “Good customer service” – what a joke! That’s a thing of the past. 

Often when you finally get a “real” person, you’re lucky if he or she is knowledgeable. Sometimes you get passed onto someone else. And it’s a miracle if they speak English you can understand. I often have to beg the person to slow down. These people will start rattling off information and your brain can’t keep up. They want to hurry you up and get you off the phone.

I do have to say, there are times, when I finally get a real person, they are polite and helpful. It’s just too bad you have to go through so much crap to get there. It gets so I hate picking up the phone. The “Live Chat” people are often nice, too, but it only works for specific questions.

This whole way of doing business saddens me. I’m not sure what the answers are, but it seems like the minute a company grows big, it becomes more impersonal and less about customer satisfaction. What does it say about a company that refuses to give you its personal attention? 

Maybe the answer is right in that previous sentence. When it becomes a “company” or even worse, corporation, and not the people or person running the business, then the customers are no longer number one. The company is impersonal. A company is not a person so does not care about people. What’s best for a company might not be what’s best for people (whether employees or customers). 

And marketing? Marketing is just words to entice customers; just words to convince you to buy from them. The saddest part is that there doesn’t even have to be any truth to the words. But this is another entire subject.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Waiting for Trades’ Jobs to Get Done

This is Day 37 at Ellen Brook in Hillsborough. Thirty-seven days and there is still not one room that is complete, not totally settled. I just want one room done, just one...  to start. This chaos is weighing on me. One full month plus doesn’t sound like a lot, but I feel I have been in on-hold mode forever. I have been here long enough that some things should be finished.

Progress has been made; little bits here and there. One of the problems is the busyness of the tradesmen. My jobs are small (to them) and they fit me in when they can. While I understand that, it’s also frustrating. I’ll even settle for the tiny bathroom. I did get the new walk-in shower installed, which is wonderful, but because the vanity faucets are still on backorder, the bathroom job could not be finished. I cannot get the new over-the-toilet storage unit until the vanity is installed because I have to make sure it will all fit. The wall painting has to be done, too, and I’m holding off installing the toilet paper holder and towel racks for that (which means wet towels and such are draped on other things). New trim is also needed around the new shower.

Bathroom items are spread throughout the bedroom which makes that space awkward to move around. Again, until walls are painted, I’m holding off adding some special Sasha touches with décor and pictures. 

Unused and unwanted items are slowly being weeded out… a very slow process, mostly my fault in trying to hold onto My Stuff. I’m getting better at it. Sometimes I need to go through the stuff more than once to decide to let it go. I am totally amazed, shocked, appalled at all I own. 

The king size bed finally sold allowing room in the shed – which I immediately filled. However, that needs to be better organized and there are items still on the deck, and more, that need to be under cover before winter. The garage and mud room won’t be built until next spring so the work in the shed needs to be done soon.

Yesterday I made a foray to Concord. A new printer and keyboard were needed along with a second set of bed sheets. Hiking around the two box stores always sets my back, knees, hips, and feet to aching and there was still one more store to go. Lowes took care of those needs and by then I was exhausted. Headway was made and I was able to scratch a lot off my lists. It did feel good to be out and about.

Today is another day at home; another day of looking at the ugly walls, ugly floors, and the messy rooms. I’m trying to remain upbeat, but as the days drag on between real progress, I can’t help but feel a little down. However, in the concentrating on the day’s editing and community calendar work, time will go by fast.

The waiting is hard, though. I can’t do this until that is done. It seems that everything there is to do requires something else to be completed first. It also means that some things are moved a dozen times before the permanent home is found and a main goal to this house is that everything will have its place and be organized. At the moment, too little has found its home.

That said, there really has been progress. I am getting there. I just want this all to be done so I can get back to writing and art.