Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Year of Gratitude: Day Three Hundred Fifty-nine

Day 359 – Light at the End of the Tunnel

After today, I have one week left in this year-long blog.  It’s hard to believe I started this so long ago – it doesn’t feel like a year has passed – and it has been instructive to read some of my earlier posts again.  A lot has changed in fifty-one weeks.

I have often thought about the clichĂ©, "a light at the end of the tunnel.”  Sometimes I repeat the joke that it’s the headlight of an oncoming train.  Sometimes that hasn’t been a joke.  I had a brief period of bright light in the tunnel when I got my job – which has been a relief and a blessing – only to have other big issues pop up and challenge me.  Now that I have to deal with the vagaries of “real life” again, I find the light at the end of this tunnel is somewhat subdued.  The light is there, and I’m grateful for it, but it isn’t the bright light of a honeymoon resort on a warm, deserted beach.  It’s more like a foggy morning – I can’t be certain what lies ahead of me, just beyond the curve and out of the range of visibility.  Early light is brightening the vapor that enshrouds the tunnel’s exit; I can see the road, though, as it passes out of the tunnel and into the open air that is thick with uncertainty and expectation.

I move toward the light – hopeful, wary, curious – and find something to be grateful for.  I know I will emerge safely, and I’ll proceed cautiously.  I am lucky to be here today.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Year of Gratitude: Day Three Hundred Fifty-eight

Day 358 – Boxes to Stumble Over

Anyone who knows me well understands that I like to have a fairly tidy home.  I don’t try to live in a museum, and it's usually true that my desk is cluttered and in disarray.  But in general, I like to keep my home in such a state that when unexpected guests arrive, I don’t have to hurry to close a door or hide a sink full of dishes.

However, when one has just moved into a new home, boxes and out-of-place possessions are to be expected.  Navigating through them in the early morning may be difficult, but not a big deal (as long as you can find the clothes you need and can manage a decent breakfast).  And even though there are moments when I wish I had a lot less and could start over, I am reminded that these things were accumulated over a long period and represent memories of accomplishment and success.  Sometimes it’s not a bad thing to be stumbling over a box or bag.  Sometimes it means more than clutter.

A Year of Gratitude: Day Three Hundred Fifty-seven

Day 357 – Day’s End

Some days are best when they’re over.  Today was one of those days.

The movers arrived.  For the second time.

As I said before, on Day 342, I have moved 29 times in the last 32 years, and this was by far the worst experience I’ve ever had.  The movers [whose name I can no longer publish, but who are based in SE Portland] had the opportunity to practice "service recovery" after their negligence shown in the first act of this move.

I was beyond disappointed.

I had the same driver as the first time, only this time he had a co-worker to help him.  Their reaction when they opened the back door was immediate: they recognized how badly my belongings had been loaded onto the truck.  Many of my things were visibly damaged.  Again.  The plaster replica of Michelangelo's David was destroyed.  I stood there in disbelief.

I contacted the (useless) manager by phone, and couldn’t help but raise my voice.  When you, and your life's belongings, are treated so shabbily, you naturally get “passionate” about it, right?  Well, I was so passionate I’m sure I was three shades of red.

The moving company owner - a man I'm guessing in his 20's with no professional experience before this - heard from me again.  I'm sure he's ruing the day he took on this job.  I hope so, anyway, because I sure am.

The house is a disaster again.  I am exhausted.  

I am glad that today is over, and I can start a new one tomorrow. 

A Year of Gratitude: Day Three Hundred Fifty-six

Day 356 – Volunteering

I had the opportunity to volunteer at this year’s AIDS Walk Long Beach.  I worked in the “Incentives” booth – when the walkers fundraising reached certain levels, they received some prizes (Logo T-shirts, caps, etc.).  I didn’t work the booth alone, and I met a number of great people in the process.

It started very early in the morning, and the weather was cool and a bit moist, but not unpleasant.  The work itself was pretty easy, and the festive mood indomitable.  I wasn’t prepared to walk, so this was my way to participate in moving the organization forward.  I hope we raised a fair amount (knowing our fundraising is way down, thanks to the economy).

The whole thing ended a little earlier than I had expected, so I went home and took a little nap, feeling as if the world is a slightly better place for our collective effort.  This is an organization I’d like to work with more.  Garry is a great Executive Director and leader.  I could learn a thing or two from him.

A Year of Gratitude: Day Three Hundred Fifty-five

Day 355 – Ear Plugs and White Noise

Staying with my friend Erik has been a blessing and a joy.  He has provided a home for me without allowing me to pay for anything – nothing toward rent, utilities, or sometimes even the food – and I have felt very much “at home,” indeed.  Although street parking has been challenging at times, it hasn’t been too bad.  The real difficulty has been the very loud and shockingly disrespectful neighbors.

Across the landing are a young gay couple and their female roommate; they play their music at excruciatingly loud volumes, and it’s always the same playlist – BeyoncĂ© most often – with their front door open and little dogs barking.  Their front door is six feet from Erik’s and, as I try to sleep in the living room, 12 feet from my pillow.  The window panes in the door are thin, providing no sound insulation whatsoever.  I have tried asking, pleading, and even insisting on turning it down, but it never works.  They simply cannot comprehend that others do not live exactly as they do, keep exactly the same schedule, or could possibly be bothered by their choices in music, hours, or jokes and other drunken behavior.

I am grateful that these incidents have not been quite as frequent as when I was staying with Erik in 2010, but I recently discovered a lovely combination of sleep aids to combat the onslaught of neighborly obnoxiousness: ear plugs and white noise.

I have a space heater that makes a fair amount of noise.  The sound isn’t so loud as to wake the dead, but just enough to cover the majority of sound coming from across the front landing.  When you add ear plugs, the thump of the bass notes from their music is minimized to allow for sleep (although I can still hear my alarm, which is rather odd).  On those nights when they simply HAD to party until 2:30 AM, I was still able to sleep enough to be coherent in my new job the next day.  Had I not thought to turn on the space heater’s fan – without heat – I don’t know what condition I’d be in now.  I’m just so grateful to have this white noise generator with a heating coil and my “Hear-O’s.”  YAY for sleep!