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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Help

I put my foot on the clutch and started my car. Sweet. She still fires right up. It's a '95 Plymouth Neon. I don't know how many miles are on it. The speedometer works sporadically. If I drive in the snow or rain I end up with pools of water sitting in the backseat foot wells. I don't think I can get the spare tire out. Rusted in place. Oil consumption depends on how fast and how far I go it seems. Oh yeah, and the rear springs are broken and the front suspension is shot. Every pothole or bump creates quite the thump. I can't just pump gas in it either. Some part of the relief tube is not hooked up correctly and I have to trickle the gas in so it doesn't back flush all over me and the ground. She gets me where I need to get though.

I throw 'er into reverse and swing around to pull away. Shift into 1st and I'm off.

Whoa! Hold on! Something's not right.

Instead of my peppy little Neon taking right off she's all sluggish and I have to feather the gas and clutch to gain enough speed to shift into 2nd. First thing I think is one of the cylinders isn't firing. Need a tune-up. Bad.

Great. I had just made an appointment to get the brakes done. Had just scraped up the money. I'm going to have to use that money for the tune-up.

Yes, I suppose I could do it myself. Brakes are easy enough. A tune-up even easier. The problem? Tools. That and I haven't done anything like that in a long time. Never mind how long.

I've never been a big gear-head with cars. Sure I could buy the manual and follow the pictures and all that. I was never a tool collector either. Yes, of course I wish I had been. All the time. Instead I'll bring it in to a garage and let some guy earn his fifty and found. (That's $50 a month room and board. Oh, just Google it.)

The thing is though that as soon as I knew I needed to get a tune-up I knew our time together was coming to an end. I knew that I'd have to start pouring money in to it.

I was right too. I had the tune-up done and still needed the brakes done. And now other things were starting to break.

So I started looking for a new car. Not, you know, NEW new. Just something newer and safer.

I found an '03 Saab 9-5 Aero. Four cylinder 5 speed manual transmission with a lot of bells. Not sure about the whistles though. I went to the dealer a few times to look it over and read the Carfax. I still looked around to see if there was something else around that would be better and not so expensive to repair if needed. It was such a step up from what I had been driving for the last few years though I fell for it pretty quickly. I mean who wouldn't? It was a performance car with a stick. Performance tires and suspension. The the whole deal. And of course it was in so much better shape than my poor Neon.

I was feeling pretty good about my choice. I was arranging to get at some of my money so I could do the deed.

Until.

Until I talked to my mother.

I was talking to her one night about needing a car and what I was going to do about it. The next night she calls me and says she'd like me to have her car.

Whoa! Hey, wait! I'm a fifty year old man taking care of business the best way I could. I knew how to handle this. I didn't need my mother running to the rescue.

I won't tell you how old she is. She'd kill me. No, really. Let's just say that for a few years now the whole should she drive any more conversation has come up a few times.

Her car is a few years older than mine and in desperate need of detailing. Desperate need. And, you know, I felt like I was already, umm, spoken for.

I was really torn for a while. Free car. My own decision. Another possible clunker. A pretty decent car that I felt I wouldn't have to worry about for a while. My own person. My mother to the rescue.

I guess the thing is though, who would turn down a free car? I'm still unemployed. I could use some of the money to make sure that the car is in as good shape as it can be. I could use some to pay off some bills.

There's all of that. But then there's me learning to accept help. Take a helping hand when offered. That's always been a tough one for me. I'd rather suffer anything sometimes than ask for help. It's not pride. It's deeper and sillier than that.

The other thing is letting my mother help me. I've never asked for help from her in anything. This would make her feel happy to be able to do something for me.

So it wasn't so bad. I allowed someone to help me out and the sun did indeed come up the next morning. Although it will take a while to get used to driving an automatic again.

If you're anything like me you're willing to help out any way you can whenever you're asked. The thing you have to remember is almost everyone you know is just as willing to help you too. We'll all make it through this maze. Sometimes you just need a little help.

I'm pullin' for ya.



Friday, June 8, 2012

The Heart of the Matter

I don't even know where to start really.

So  many post beginnings have flashed through my head lately. So many times I've thought "That's it! That's what the ultimate point of my next post will be".

The thing is though, that's not how I used to write this blog. It used to be all extemporaneous. I would see something or talk to someone and I would tell that story. Usually I'd pull something out of that interaction to remind you and me that we're really OK. That if we just remember each other it would all work out. For whatever reason I'd think of a song while I was writing and it just naturally fit with what I was doing. As a friend and I discussed at one point it was mostly unplanned (not the word we used) writing. By that I mean that it just happened that way. I never consciously started a certain way or tried to wend my way to certain points. It just worked out that way.

Something's happened somewhere along the way.

I used to write just about any time a thought struck me. I'd whip out my trusty phone and get to work. I'd get to the section of Blogger where I could start or edit posts and write away. After a while though Google changed their format a bit - well a lot - and I found it next to impossible to write on my phone. I found a blog editing app that was pretty easy to use and I was off again. This app even allowed me to start attaching videos to posts as I wrote. I thought that was pretty cool. It seemed kinda hard to edit things once they were published though. I always miss something when I proofread and just have to change it if I see something wrong on the live blog.

Then a laptop wandered it's way into my life. I could use Blogger to my hearts content. I could change fonts if I wanted to. I could spell check if the fancy struck me. There were so many things I could do that I couldn't on my phone.

So far so good, right?

 Well, yes. And of course, no.

I don't really consider myself a writer. I'm just a person who likes to write. I'm sure my punctuation is greatly lacking. I don't write drafts and rewrite them until things are perfect. I don't set a time to write every day. In other words I don't work at it. When I got a laptop it suddenly started to feel different. Flipping up the screen and turning on the computer was a concrete decision to write. Not that I avoid commitment, but turning on that computer was committing to writing. Suddenly it wasn't so spontaneous and fun.

The traffic to my blog is really fairly modest. I average, mmmm, about 250 pageviews a month. That's nothing compared to some that get thousands of hits a day. I'm not complaining, just making a comparison. I am actually always amazed and thankful for the reach of this blog. I suppose because I feel a loyalty to whatever audience might read this regularly I got too tied up with how I wrote my posts. I started trying to write things in a way that people had come to expect. I was trying to write the end before I had even stared the beginning. Almost like telling the punchline without telling the joke.

So there's a bunch of kinda internal stuff that you're probably wondering why I shared.

I'm not really sure except that I had a chance to show somebody this blog one day. There we were waiting to go to the Big Gig at the Comcast. I was talk with some one I had just met. We seemed to see eye to eye on a lot of things so I suggested he might like some of the stuff in here. I happened to glance at the archive list as he was reading and was shocked to see that I had hardly written anything this year. Never mind the post per week I had promised myself. I was barely writing one a month.

It was pretty easy to get to that point. A shrug of the shoulder over not writing one day. An unkept promise to myself to do it another day. Too much time spent watching TV. Tons of little things that I allowed to get in the way.

I'm sure you've found yourself in kinda the same situation over something. You know, going to the gym say. Some how you skip the gym one day. Suddenly it's six months since you've been.

It's so easy to forget. Forget that we are imperfect. That we are human. That making mistakes is what we're best at. Don't let it stop you though. If you stumble, forgive yourself. Forgive yourself and move on. You've gotta love yourself enough to get on with it already. You're not a failure for being here with everybody else struggling to make it through.

It's hard though isn't it? Sometime it's hard to forgive others. A lot of times it's hard to give ourselves a break. Sometimes we cling to the past and mistakes we may have made.

How can you expect to love and live a full life if your life doesn't include forgiveness. And of course it starts with you. Love yourself. Forgive yourself. To paraphrase a quote I've seen from the Dalai Lama; of all the people on earth you are the person most deserving of your love. The best way to start that is by a simple act of forgiveness.

I'm pullin' for ya. We're all in this together