It’s not necessarily the same thing, but “we all have something.”

Years ago, when writing a book, I came across a news headline about a scientist posted in the North Pole or was it the South Pole, who got cancer.  Unable to get home promptly for treatment, she had to treat herself with whatever supplies and technology she had at hand.  But when finally flighted back to civilization she said, “we’ve all got something, mine happens to be cancer.”

Like that scientist mine might be cancer or another sickness.  Yours might be a battle against a past that still haunts you.  Maybe your something is financial struggle.  Or your fight could be with a difficult relationship that you can’t sever nor reconcile.

But one thing is certain, “we all have something.”  It’s universal.

Then again, “there’s always something.”  We’re never free from some needling something that keeps us “fighting the good fight.”  The Biblical Apostle Paul, had a figurative thorn in his side, literally needling him to stay appreciative.

Why do I always think of Robin Williams’ line in Mrs. Doubtfire, “I am job,” when I write the biblical name, Job? But back to the subject at hand, there is the Old Testament figure, Job who had a trifecta of trouble, testing his loyalty to the God who gave him everything, only to have it all taken away by Satan.

We homeowners often lament that the honey-do, DIY jobs around the house, never end; whining regularly that “there’s always something.”  And what Monday morning doesn’t start out with hope that this time it’ll not be as usual, punctuating the end of the day and the beginning of the week with, “there’s always something.”

Even if you’re “living the dream,” make no mistake, there is always some hindrance, tension, or problem to be overcome.  I think of the one element required in a good plot, whether in a book or film, which is tension.  Something to get out from under.

And don’t you know that’s the thing that drives us forward and drives us crazy at the same time.  I can’t tell you how many times my husband and I have discerned the advent of that element of plot in a movie, much to our dismay, “well, there has to be tension or there would be no movie, eh!”  We’d usually prefer that it skip the cliched problem and move on to the solution.

The underdog always thinks, “if I could just get to be ‘top-dog’ I’d be fulfilled or content, or happy.”  I think it was Rockefeller (John D.) who answered the question put to him, “how much money does it take to make a man happy?  One more dollar.”

“Fighting the good fight,” a line taken from the Apostle Paul’s letter to his protégé, Timothy, is a precept which encourages us all to become better at our humanity.  It’s meant to give us the strength to battle whatever “something” that stands between us and completion of our purpose in life.  And “there’s always something.”

“Gonna try with a little help from my friends…”  That was how the Beatles described our need for some help to deal with the “somethings” that hound us.

I know to the independent sort of folk, “help” is a “four-letter” word of the dirtiest kind.  But sooner or later we’re gonna need some help for something.

One of my favorite songs is, “Giant” by Calvin Harris.  Let me close this with a little something from that song.  Maybe it’ll help you with whatever something you have to deal with this week:

“I would be nothing without you holding me up…  Now I’m strong enough for both of us…  Climb up on my shoulders, tell me what you see…  We’ll be breaking boulders underneath our feet…”

Words, Oh My!

I admit I had a smidgen of trouble coming up with this week’s column.  It wasn’t as severe as writer’s block, but maybe it was writer’s constipation.

Instead of a laxative or even a stool softener, all I needed was a fiber gummy or two, lol.  I crack myself up; maybe just myself, but “we” have fun.

Then, it hit me.  Words.

It all began with that day’s “word of the day,” sumpsimus This word piqued my curiosity.  I often try to suss a word’s meaning with its parts, or bit of Latin roots.

So, I thought of maximus, as in gluteus-maximus or what I interpret as massive muscle or big butt, lol.  Next, I thought of sumptuous, which to me means delectable.  Well, then it got dirtier, as in sump pump.  So, I stopped thinking and researched the word, sumpsimus.

Well, I couldn’t seem to relate to the word sumpsimus, but oh baby did I relate to it’s opposite, mumpsimus, meaning “adherence to an incorrect word or practice while rejecting the correct one, or a person who persists in a mistaken expression or practice.”

I was shopping in a certain supermarket that I frequent, occasionally.  Although the word frequent in the previous sentence means to visit often, I’m compelled to use it.  However, in this I would be lying, so I modified it with the word occasionally.  This word usage most certainly is a breach of the rules of English grammar, but I think you get my drift.

I shop in this store more than occasionally but not as much as I could honestly characterize as often.  Last week I found myself in said grocery store three times, but I stopped in once the month before.  You decide.

At any rate, a visit or two back, that supermarket gave me a new surname.  It’s okay.  My married surname happens to be French and many people overly-Frenchify it by pronouncing it, “Le-Vaughn” or “Le-von.” I’m used to this.

It all started with their app and my trying to get some 99-cent wheat bread for my daughter, named Eleni.  Her unusual name is for another paragraph, perhaps another time.

In order to use digital coupons on select, in-store advertised prices, I’m told I have to use the app on my smart-phone, which is much too smart for me sometimes.  Well, I made a scene at the self-checkout.  I really wanted that 99-cent bread instead of paying full price at a hefty $3.89 or some such exorbitant price, at least in comparison to the .99 promise.  If only.

I tried my app three times before I called for help.  When help came to my rescue, she tried my app for me.  At every attempt, we got stuck on my password, or lack thereof.  I explained that I go through this every time I try to use the app for those digital coupons.  So, together, we tried to reset the password, and we waited and waited for me to get an email allowing me to reset my password, to no avail.  My helper finally overrode the system and let me check out using one of her “secret associate codes” so I could get the .99 bread for Eleni.

My married-surname, LeVan is of French Huguenot derivation.  We’ve often been offered a Jewish heritage with said surname, pronounced, Levine (la-VEEN).  It’s also not uncommon for people, in writing to skip the capital letter in the middle, with Levan, again leaning toward the Hebrew, as in leaven, sounds like heaven.

I get it.  Many official businesses will ALL CAP names and addresses to simplify such things as this in their overly-complicated, or is it over-simplified databases.  So, when LEVAN is all capped, it lends itself to losing the capital V in the middle when reverting out of all-caps.

A few days after the latest debacle trying to use digital coupons, I called the supermarket corporate offices to find out what was up with my app.  A kind, happy, young-sounding representative sussed out that the reason my password wouldn’t work was the misspelling of my surname in their system.  Le Van, two words.

It seems that a year or two ago, that crazy app assigned me the name Le Van, as in the Korean/Vietnamese combo of, LEE VAN.  When she said that they can’t correct this in their system, I acquiesced, “I am neither Korean nor Vietnamese, but okay!”

This made me and that sweet girl at the supermarket call center hysterical for a few seconds.   Probably she or I needed a good laugh that Monday morning.

At any rate, you can call me what you wish.  Even though that mumpsimus grocery store cannot, in their system, correct my name to its proper place in their world, I know who I am.  I was a Barton, first easy-peasy. Now, it’s more than Barton, it’s LeVan (pronounced, Le-VAN).

And I use my common name, Bev instead of Beverly or my pen name Beverleigh for these columns.  This is because April, I am told, is Earth Month and God knows, I am nothing if not down-to-earth.

Words are the source of so much fun, beau-coup amounts of misunderstanding, beauty, pain, trivia and meaning.  Cheers to using your words frequently, and with flair, finesse, fun, flexibility, friendliness, forthrightness, yet, forgiveness.  An alliteration seemed somehow in order.

It’s All About Me

How about that Corona virus?  COVID?  China flu?  COVID-19?  What’s the acceptable term, and who says?

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate?  Wear a mask or don’t wear a mask.  Feed a cold, starve a fever or is it the other way around?

Fight the fever or let it run its course?  Ice?  Run a fan and a dehumidifier or infuse healing oils?

Warm liquids or cold fluids?  Tylenol and no ibuprofen?  Or both, combined, in high doses?

I don’t know.  But I think you know, or you think you do.

One thing I’m certain about is one’s level of interest in this virus, or interest about anything, really, is, how has it affected me?  Has my loved one suffered through it?  Has someone I cared for, died from its effects?

Everything is about me.  I didn’t get it, yay.  Whew.  Cheerio then.  All is well as long as I’m well.

I haven’t lost my job or business, my health, my social equilibrium.  I’m good.

My livelihood hasn’t been desolated nor my liveliness diminished, so “it’s all good.”  This is just an extended vacay for me.

I’m working from home, in my pajamas; living the dream.  I mean who can’t Skype, zoom, Face-time, IM, or talk on the phone?  These are the times: the best or the worst, depending on how they work for me.

Self-centered, I’m the center of the universe, don’t you know?  How dare you question my opinions, my choices, my decisions?  Who do you think you are?  Agree with me or the highway.

Empathy.  How could you know how I feel?  I am the arbiter of my feelings.  Don’t you dare eavesdrop on them.  Empathy, where have you gone?

I don’t share; never learned that when I was three.  How dare you care?

Everything’s a secret.  Spying on my feelings is an invasion of my privacy.  I prefer being an enigma, alone.

My eyes don’t leak my motives.  My words reveal nothing about me.  I’m hidden in my silence.

Are you kidding me?  Are you genuinely content in a world of you?  Doesn’t that mirror ever get monotonous?  Dull?  Hazy? 

Others provide perspective, variety, pizazz, color.  Adam, the Genesis man was incomplete, alone.  He needed another, a mate.

I’m defining “mate” in the Aussie sense of the word.  In Oz, everyone can be your mate.  In Australian cinema, I’ve even seen enemies refer to one another as mates.  It’s a universal, other, mate.  Other than me, I, self.

“Other than me” … a counterpart, alternative…to me, who doesn’t agree with me.  Someone who cares about me enough to challenge my oneness, myself, my singularity.  If you don’t have others, please care for yourself enough to ask God to put others on your path; someone who will make you more than you, alone.  Others who cajole you to come outside of yourself, to play.  Make” my plans,” “our plans.”

Ask, “how are you?”  Mean it, genuinely mean it.  Not just a passing greeting to which you expect either no response at all or please God, a rote, “I’m fine, how are you?”  Just don’t make me engage, really engage, with another.

Could we try being real, genuine, honest?  I, for one, need this from the world.  Wouldn’t it be better if we dropped the barriers, the “stone walls,” the dividers and the boxes?  All the things that keep us apart, isolated in our me-ness.

Face it, most of us have been wearing masks since at least high school.  The Corona virus mask is far from the first mask we’ve had to wear in public.

Public masks remind me of the recent death of Prince Phillip.  It occurs to me that some people must wear masks for noble reasons, like duty, in the case of royalty.  Royals must wear masks as they are tasked to serve at the pleasure of the queen/king; not at their own pleasure or whim.  Queen Elizabeth and company cannot afford the uniquely American characteristic of self-serving public life.  They serve a higher power, the church, and the crown.

The lives of those in the House of Windsor are not their own.  They do many things with a masked face.  I wouldn’t play poker with a one of them.

Hiding from reality, the truth, or shame, isn’t new.  In high school we wore masks to protect our real selves from being disliked by others.  But as an adult, I’m thinking that if back then, we had the courage to expose our true selves, being open, genuine, the real deal, “they” may have liked us without the mask.

I awoke from a dream that had me at a meeting in Bedford, a rally sponsored by the You and Me Movement A woman with her handful of different colored pills began to offer them to one and all.  I selected a yellow pill but pocketed it, others ingested theirs without question, and yet others defiantly refused them.

Whatever pill you choose, let’s make the medicine about you AND me.  Healing rarely happens to me, alone.  It takes others in concert with me.  Let’s sing in harmony.


A 21st-Century Hangover

Do you ever feel like Rip Van Winkle?  You’ve imbibed a boatload of liquor, fell asleep, only to awaken years later to a remarkably changed world.

I toyed with another title for this column.  My second favorite, but way too long was, Debbie Downer, of Saturday Night Live fame marries the notorious Rip Van Winkle and soon thereafter gives birth to their first child, Woke.”

Imagine for the duration of this missive that you’re elderly, no, an “older adult,” in 2021.  The 1900’s seem to have disappeared at the blink of an eye.  Your cultural comfort zone has vanished.  You’re still getting used to writing the year, beginning with a two.

Just when you got used to a push-button phone after growing up with a rotary-dialer and a party-line; “oops, I’m sorry Jane and Tom, I just picked up to call Aunt Barb; how are your gardens doing…?”  You never liked those portable phones, everybody younger tried to foist onto you.  They felt in your hand like a toy.  Now you’re supposed to adapt to a cell phone.

If you stick to your guns and maintain your nearly obsolete home phone, now called a landline, you have to include what we knew as an area code even to call six houses down, which was always only needed for “long-distance” calls.

Today it’s an ordeal when you have to call a business to solve a problem.  It used to be that you asked the person on the other end of the phone a simple question, and you got a simple answer.  You didn’t need a PhD to find out why your TV cable stopped working and get it fixed.

We used to get local channels 10 and 6, Altoona and Johnstown.  Now we have to select a package or bundle of channels, or do we want something called streaming rather than “regular TV?”  We have a smart TV from which we can “get on the internet” and watch shows in “high definition or HD,” which means nothing to us.  But we have to use three remotes, one of which is voice activated, only if we use the right words, that we once called “clickers,” long after which we used to get up from the couch to turn the channel with a knob.  We have 100s of channel options of nothing worth watching.

Today, it’s hard enough to get a person to pick up the phone, let alone get an answer to our query from the first extension that we reach.  Then how do we discern which “department” we need connected to for our particular problem?

What was once professional journalism, studded with integrity and the five foundational questions of who, what, where, when and how, has changed into an opinion-infested, uber-politically-correct propaganda machine, complete with a loudspeaker called the internet and social media.

I’ve awakened to a civil war unlike any other observed in history.  History itself has been and is being rewritten because people don’t like it.  Divisions and stratifications between groups from families, genders, races, political parties, age-groups, and so on are the rule.  Agreement, even civility is hard to come by; rare commodities.

Language rules have changed too.  The basic constitutional right to free speech, has become a confusion on par with the tower of Babel.  “More” speech is a better description than “free” speech, these days.  But speech is policed by what is called a “woke” generation.  Have these arbiters of truth been asleep like me, but awoke a bit sooner to have obtained all the answers to the questions I’m still stewing over?

We’ve stopped policing violence, tolerating it as if it were justifiable, righteous indignation.  Criminals were rebranded as terrorists sometime while I was asleep.  Now they are defined as activists, fighting for social justice.  Is this the mother of all paradoxes, or what?

This world used to at least sort of make sense to ordinary people like me.  Can we even use the word nonsensical anymore?  Common sense was the norm when I was awake way back when.  Most people held in common a collective, sound, practical judgment concerning everyday matters; we shared a basic understanding and perception about how life was to be best lived.

Before I went to sleep, there was clear meaning in the world.  We understood one another, and feeling understood is key to mental health.  Way back when, things were far from perfect, but life seemed reasonable and negotiable, if not utopian.

Systems are now in place in every walk of life “to make things easier.”  Let me be one to inform you, “these things are not easier!”  From new and “improved” billing statements, and options to pay my bills; to that dumb voice-activated clicker, and hoops we have to jump through to prove our identity, unless we don’t have to prove it at all, life is nothing but more complicated, and is far from easier or improved.

One must practically be a professional sonogram technician to get any personal business done these days.  In fact, as an “older adult,” getting our first COVID vaccine we were instructed to come to the site with a bar code unique to us, provided in the email nailing down our appointment.  When we proudly mastered the bar code thingy, downloaded onto our cell phones, the lovely nurse at the door said, “you don’t need that, we think it was created by a millennial to test the cognizance of ‘older adults.’”  We laughed that tortured laugh, hard earned, and really really wanted to get that bar code that we mastered, scanned by somebody, anybody.

English novelist, George Orwell wrote a book called 1984, in 1949.  We thought back in my day that this book speaking to the future, was absurd.  Think again.

Our leaders point to a future of stress, sadness, doom and gloom even as they spend mind-boggling, unprecedented sums of money we don’t have, to save us from that uncertain future.  By the way what is Bitcoin?  There was a time when gold, silver and other tangible substances had to be vaulted to back up even paper money, but cyber money, oh my.

Many of us used to believe in a God who promised a future of hope, light, generosity, kindness.  It seems that stress, tension, fear and hate have usurped levity joy, gratitude and faith.

The old work-reward system has been replaced with a toil-for-gain, one.  Work had its satisfaction, i.e. “job well done.”  Toil, however, is drudgery, almost like slavery, and it hurts.  Rewards speak for themselves but gain implies greed, avarice, and inequity.  This is the new system.

Mental illness is treated like sex used to be back in my day.  It’s there, but we don’t talk about it.  Whoa baby has that changed.  Sex is nearly all ya’ll talk about, from what gender you “think you are,” of which there are now supposedly dozens, to what rich and powerful someone had sex with whom and was that sex, proper sex, explicit sex which is celebrated in no uncertain terms in popular culture; clandestine sex, abuse, rape, or something else altogether, certainly not sex.

Mental illness is rampant in this “woke” world.  The most “popular” mental illnesses, if you monitor the media, include substance or social addictions, depression, narcissistic personality disorders, sudden wealth syndrome, OCD, bipolar or what used to be manic-depressive disorder, and hundreds of other illnesses of the mind and emotions which are still in their “coming out” phase.

I read a book published in 2019 written by a therapist, about therapy.  She cautioned, “before diagnosing people with depression make sure they are not surrounded by assholes.”  Also, “today everybody moves at the speed of want;” and “change involves the loss of the old and the anxiety of the new.”

We used to read the Bible as our therapy before I went to sleep.  The future we were cautioned about, from 2 Timothy 3:1-5, suggested “terrible times of great stress” when people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, ungrateful, unforgiving, proud, without love, rash and conceited.”  Do you recognize these traits or is it just me because I’ve been sleeping for a while?

Because of this hangover, I can’t be certain that I will ever awaken enough to be labeled “woke.”  But I think an open mind will help in my adaptation to this rapidly changing world.

Wounded trees & Resurrection

Spring has sprung in these parts.  The daffodils’ sunny faces have enlightened our landscape.  Easter has come and gone.  But, resurrection, thankfully, will stick around for weeks to come.

On one of my walks through the woods, I noticed a tree with a massive gash in its trunk.  Although this time of year, with just emerging foliage, it’s difficult to know if the tree was dead, but I don’t think it was.  Then, I walked a bit further and noticed a couple of other live trees, smaller ones with similar gashes, in scale to their smaller size.

This got me to thinking about wounds.  Further, I began to contemplate the healing of wounds and even more, about unhealed wounds and healed-over wounds.

A wound is defined as an injury involving division of tissue due to external violence.  This is a physical wound to a person, animal, or plant.  Then there are wounds to the feelings, emotions, mind, sensibilities, etc.  I’m a little more familiar with the workings of the latter than the former, given my education, and proclivity for things psychological.

I find it fascinating that some of the listed synonyms of the noun, wound, are: injury, trauma, torment, anguish, heartbreak, grief, and distress; mostly psychological things.  Even more interesting are the antonyms which include joy, comfort, contentment, and happiness; also, psychological things.

I promise I won’t psychobabble you, but I do have some thoughts on the subject. Starting with tree wounds, the thing that started all of this thinking.  The bottom line is, tree wounds don’t heal, they seal.  Tree’s wall-off injured tissue and continue to generate new tissue outside of the wounded area.

I think a lot of people are walking around like wounded trees, with deep unhealed psychological injuries that have been walled-off, sealed up and consciously ignored.  Given the definitions of wound, I don’t believe this is much of a leap in logic.

You’ve heard the term, “walking-wounded,” those of us who look healed and whole, but in reality, all that is healed is the acute blood-letting part of the original wound.  New tissue has been generated surrounding the old wound and life has gone on, as life does, in altered form.

Some of our wounds have been sutured, glued, and plugged.  We’re covered over with scabs and scars, and new tissue that is about 80% as strong as our original condition.

Healing of wounds requires moisture and often that moisture is maintained by a covering, the proverbial “band-aid.”  But wounds, can’t remain covered eternally and might become unhealthily dependent on the bandage.  Also, I’ve watched enough “doctor”-shows on television to know that some wounds are better left open for a time in order to heal thoroughly.

As to the psychological wound, it seems that the bandage, covering or hiding the wound, necessarily protects the person from acute pain and becoming overwhelmed, in the short term.  Then, there comes a time to expose the wound, to air it out, and this means to talk, communicate, talk and communicate some more, for healing to occur.

Have you heard of “airing out your grievances?”  Otherwise, there remains a chronic wound underneath the healthy tissue, rising up now and again from the unconscious, in the form of anger, defensiveness, fierce independence, fear, divisiveness, secrecy, depression, restlessness, agitation, and general malaise from an otherwise unknown origin.

If you think you’re immune to inner wounds, think again.  Having studied prenatal psychology many years ago, I can testify that some professionals believe we’re wounded from the trauma of birth.  So, there’s that.

What most of us recognize as simply personality traits, are frequently not something we’re born with, but something we’ve developed as defense mechanisms to cover our wounds.  Most of these wounds, I would surmise are unknown consciously to us.  They’ve been so thoroughly covered over, walled-off, and obscured by what’s happened since then, that they just “belong” to us and we don’t know any different.  We’ve adapted to the wound.

The good news is that healing is possible if we learn to talk, communicate, and talk some more. Eighty-percent strong are good odds.  Human tissue, unlike that of wounded trees, is capable of self-generated repair, restoration, replacement and regeneration.  The sutures of communication help to rebuild new tissue because they close the mass of the original wound needing healed.

I’m reminded of a song on my jogging playlist, Breathe (2 AM) by Anna Nalick, which in part, laments, “winter just wasn’t my season….”  If winter wasn’t your season, hooray that Spring brings hope for something better. I wish you all a happy resurrection, and Godspeed with your wound-healing.


Customer Service Conundrum – Oh My!

Sadly, I’m back into some familiar territory in a real-time battle with the American customer service system.  This is bureaucracy at its worst and that’s fifteen minutes of my life that I will never get back.

My thought was that I’d just make a quick telephone call instead of trying to do this online.  Yeah, sure.

Ring, ring….  The automated system picks up and there’s a familiar click, click, click of the system attempting to recognize my telephone number.

There’s a thought in the back of my mind that this might not go well.  I’m calling for another party who’s unable to handle the rigamarole of customer service inquiries.  Supposedly, I’m better equipped to navigate this morass.

And it’s a Monday morning.  What was I thinking?

The automated system addresses me with a few questions to secure my identity.  Now I’m a little bit closer to knowing that this won’t go well, because “we” are going through “my” information, not the information about said other party about whom I’m calling.

“We” go through my balance, which was paid in full, on time.  Then, it’s time for my options, of which I’m hoping one will at least vaguely match what I’m calling about.  No such luck.

I’m paraphrasing here because it’s become a blur as to exactly what the options were.

Option one: “Do you want to make a payment?”  Option two: “Do you need service?”  Option three: “Have you moved?”  Option four: “Do you need to switch services?”  Option five: “Do you have an outage?”

I couldn’t honestly choose any of these options, so I chose Option six: MORE OPTIONS.

Don’t you know that “more options” didn’t provide the magic bullet to help me get to a real person.  So, as we all do, I frantically pressed zero in quick succession, trying in vain to outwit the automated system.  I wanted to blow-out the system so that it would give up and send me to a person.

Again, not so much.  The system simply started over.  “We see that you did not choose an option.”  “Do you want to make a payment…?”

I’m really not all that dense, but I am susceptible to frustration with inanimate objects that buck my will.  At the end of “more options,” I yelled, “ANOTHER ACCOUNT” into the phone, then hit the zero again, about five times. 

Like all of us, I thought that if I said it louder, I might get the response I needed.  But I blew-out that blasted automated system which then had the temerity to hang up on me.  Can you believe it?

My next strategy was to call again but this time pretend to the automated system that it was my account that I was calling about.  Then when a live person got on the phone, I’d pull the switch, “I’m really calling about another account, can I give you the account number?”

I couldn’t help but feel sneaky and a little bit guilty about this deception.  But it was all I could think to do to get past the automaton.  And it worked, I reached Tamyra.

As soon as Tamyra answered, I told her that I needed to speak to her about another account, not the one associated with the telephone number from which I was calling.  I went on, as I sometimes do, especially when I’m nervous, to tell her that it was for so-in-so who is having trouble with their service/product.

Tamyra quickly switched paths and asked for the account number, which I provided.  Then, it happened, the real person needed more information to verify my identity.  Thankfully, my spouse’s name opened the door enough for me to get my foot in.

He, however, had to get on the phone to “allow me permission” to continue with my inquiry.  I am a modern woman, and this little quirk of “security” ticks me off quite profoundly.  It’s too reminiscent of “allowing the little woman access to big, important things that just the men can understand.”  You get my tone?

At any rate, Tamyra moved through her various screens and attempted to process my request, which involved ordering a replacement piece of equipment.  Then she said something like, “uh-oh, there’s an error…” and asked me kindly to hold while she did some research.  After a few minutes, she came back on the phone and said her computer had frozen and she’d have to transfer me to another representative to follow-through with my replacement order.

I replied with something I thought was friendly and witty like, “Isn’t that like a Monday morning; I hope your computer thaws quickly.”  Tamyra met my retort with silence, expressing no sense of humor.  God only knows what she was going through, but she clicked me through.

I awaited another representative, but what I got was another automated system with options which as far as I could tell, had NOTHING to do with my obtaining a replacement “box.”  These options, paraphrased because there is no way I could translate accurately, might have been presented in a foreign language, so technical were they.

Option one: “Are you police, a municipality, fireman, etc.?”  Option two: “Do you need a RNC4F…?”  Option three: “Do you need a Q-fitter to replace your X10?”  Option four:I just can’t do this anymore, so I pressed the trusty zero, a few times and the system hung up on me.

God help me! 

P.S. After trying online with no path through the security morass, I placed another call, got a person, and was disconnected right at the “let me give you your order #.”

I dialed this now familiar number yet another time, got a guy, went through a dozen options, changed my mind from option two, selection A to option two, selection B and a technician is coming out on Wednesday to install said option.

Now it’s been three hours of my life that I’ll never get back.  Oh well, I did a good deed and there’s nothing bad about that.





The Rhythm of Our Moments

Our lives are an accumulation of a variety of moments.  I think the cliché is that we all experience the good, the bad, and the ugly.  A few of our moments are unpleasant or downright traumatic, but we’ve lived through them.

Because of a dream, I thought about one of those unpleasant moments in my life and a light switched on.  If it weren’t for that moment that I often wished I hadn’t experienced, I wouldn’t be here where I am now with all of the awesome goodness that followed “then.”

That moment that I’d rather not relive, turned out to be a necessary piece of the fabric that God has used to knit together my life.  Without that particular and specific cog in the wheel, I would never have been catapulted to this place, space, and circumstances, nor developed the character that most of us would identify as personality.

Remember the old adage that bad things happen to good people?  This is one of the inexplicable facts of life.  Its opposite, good things happen to bad people, is also an observable fact.

Trying to figure out why these things are so is a futile exercise.  The result of the exercise would be a banging your head against a wall moment.

I came to a theological conclusion many years ago, based on Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:5, that God sends sun as well as rain to both good and bad people, alike.  Similarly, Peter (I Peter 5:9) says that our fellow human beings all over the world undergo the same sufferings.

I surmise that in order to come to a place of satisfaction with one’s moments in life, either good or bad, we must endure some measure of suffering, or pain.  I base this theory on the evolution of the word satisfaction, which can be understood as the performance of penance.

In other words, we pay a price for life-satisfaction.  Having experienced what we feel is enough pain, and the cost starts to feel too high, most of us plow forward to reap the rewards of a life well-and-truly lived.

But, in the meantime, there is waiting.  During the waiting or the time of paying penance, we usually encounter moments of pretending that what we’ve experienced was enough, already.

Do you remember marking time with the marching band?  It’s necessary for getting the rhythm right before taking off down the street.

Rock songs occasionally mark time with the traditional one, two, three, four, sometimes accompanied by the solid click of drum sticks.  Then, you’ve learned, the other instruments will take it away, starting the tune that you’re now widely anticipating.

Most of us do a sort of percussive marking time while waiting in line, or waiting for anything.  Old timers called it fidgeting.

It can be a tap of the toe, drumming your fingers on a table or grocery cart handles.  It can be the more obvious shifting of your body weight from one leg to the other, a little heavier and clunkier than the usual dance.  But it’s a dance nonetheless, a noticeable dance of waiting.

There are so many lines, the British call them queues, to wait in these days.  I don’t know if there are more today than yesteryear or if people are more impatient or if I’m just noticing more impatience.

Some folks dance with their fingers; the keyboard of their phone, their accompaniment.  It’s not as solitary an action as one might think.  “Dance with Me” by Orleans and Abba’s “Dancing Queen” come to mind for some reason.

Obviously, these are empirical observations, an anecdotal story, not the heavily scientific kind of fact.  However, I invite you to replicate my statements by observing people the next time you find yourself in line somewhere. 

You’ll see.  There is a rhythm to our moments.