You Think You’ve Got Problems?

It’s been a whirlwind of activity around here lately as I’ve been dealing with issues that have come up. OK, so my level of tolerance for excitement is so low, I get edgy the night before garbage day.

It seems like so many things have gone wrong around here lately.

Why Do I Have to Deal With all This Crap?

  • There is the new job – it’s only part time but I get called in randomly, have mandatory trainings, and at least one webinar a week. To top it off, I still don’t feel comfortable at work. The learning curve is steep and I don’t know my coworkers too well yet.
  • My Car…So, not being the best mechanic, I didn’t follow through when my car’s engine light came on. I went back twice but they never did fix it. The other day I noticed it was leaking a bit of oil. Had to get my car tires changed over so I made another appointment for a service. The light is still on but apparently, it’s only a yellow so no one seems to think that’s all that bad.
  • House Stuff…I turned the outside taps on for winter but one of them was leaking so badly that I had to turn it off again. I tried to fix it myself but got scared when I realized that my old plumbing required a retrofit and soldering, which is way over my skill level so had to call a plumber.
  • One of my tenants left so I was scrambling to find a replacement. It’s like internet dating. People don’t read your profile so you spend a lot of time explaining nicely why it won’t work. Sometimes you find someone you think would be good and you reach out first. Things seem promising, you have a great conversation and then…nothing. Finally found someone and did the paperwork, the tour, the logistics. All good. So far.
  • Then it occurred to me that it was time I did my taxes. Something I have always tried to do myself, no matter how bloody complicated it gets. It’s like a challenge between me – and our government. Be damned if I’ll let those bastards confound me with their forms, idiotic numberings system and constant rule changes! I got mine done without too much swearing and even helped someone else out with theirs but it did take time.
  • Lately I am worried about all the shit in our water – like pharmaceuticals. I started researching how to make my own water filter system out of two large pots. The hardest part so far has been trying to find a stainless steel spigot. I don’t want a plastic one! All the rich people who care about these things have a Berkey but they are way too expensive for my budget now. So I have to crib my own together.

Solving my Oldest Problem: Making a Pair of Underwear

I have had the same problem for over 40 years now – my underwear is uncomfortable. Hell, I’d go commando if it wasn’t such a faux-pas. When I do finally find a reasonably comfortable pair, I wear them out as they end up on A-rotation. So I watched a video where they showed a woman tracing her favourite pair, making a pattern of them and then cutting and sewing them up. Easy! I made one error on my first attempt which I intend to correct on pair #2. I have to say – this is a game-changer! Even with the mistake, this new pair is more comfortable than the other wastrels in my underwear drawer.

I Need to Write

My biggest problem over the past few weeks has been that I haven’t had time to write. Writing is the whole reason I am not looking for a full time office job. It’s the only real hobby I have that I enjoy and something that I love to do. I don’t have a monetary motivation to write and it is doubtful anyone will actually read what I write but I made a promise to myself because that’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was 10 years old. Am I just no good at sticking to anything? Should I just give in to life’s constant demands for my time and attention? Why does my writing always come last, after everything else is done?

Admittedly, it’s not just the house, the car, or others who pull me away. I seem to find all kinds of excuses. I’ll dive into a project or offer to help a friend or go down a research rabbit hole whenever curiosity grabs me in the moment. And I am almost always curious about something.

Why This Avoidance?

Sometimes I am afraid to be truthful. Especially when I’m not happy-happy, joy-joy. In my experience, complaining got you a cuff across the ear and a directive to “go play on the center line.”

You could say that my whole life over the past eight years has been a giant road trip down the center line on the highway of life. Only I am not in a car but walking. With my underwear constantly riding up my butt. I’ve been run over quite a few times – sometimes deliberately. Getting back up gets easier each time, though. “I’ll be back.”

During rough patches I do look longingly at the limos that rush by on this imaginary road. As if the people in them lead charmed lives and never have to deal with the humiliation, or the sadness, or any of the financial worry that I feel. As if money is some magic elixir that fixes everything that is ever wrong in your life.

Not to mention that they also have found perfect underwear and own a gazillion pairs.

Then I Remember J. Paul Getty

J. Paul was the richest man in the US in the 1950’s. He had houses all over the world and could literally buy anything he wanted but he was a terrible miser. No stories are told of how wonderful he was, how kind, or how much difference he made in the lives of others. No. The stories still being told about him are all about how cheap he was, even 50 years later.

Here’s one example. In 1973 his 16 year old grandson was kidnapped by the mob in Italy. J. Paul refused to pay the ransom. The kidnappers sliced off the kid’s ear and mailed it to him. (Here’s a 1974 Rolling Stone magazine profile with the grandson. It really details the hell that was this kid’s life experience even before the mob got him.)

Finally, after over five months, J. Paul Getty agreed to pay a reduced amount to free his grandson. His accountants told him the amount was the maximum he could write off on his taxes.

Not surprisingly, the kid became a drug addict and had a stroke at a young age rendering him unable to speak, nearly blind, and partially paralyzed for the rest of his life. Way to go, Grandpa!

J. Paul Getty had five marriages and five divorces. Once he said that he’d give all of his millions to have just one successful relationship. I’m sure that he was paranoid and mistrustful of anyone right until up until he died. I am willing to bet that everyone he surrounded himself with was on the payroll, too.

Imagine Having to Pay People to Be Your Friends?

The richest people I have known in my life once invited us to a birthday party they were throwing for one of their kids. My then husband and I felt obligated to go because we were doing some work for them. At the party people would go up to the hostess and compliment her on the food or the décor and she would go into great detail about it all and how much it cost, etc.

As I looked around, I realized that every single person there was on their payroll in one form or another. This included their teenage kids. I felt sorry for them, and not for the first time. What complicated and messy lives they lead. They even had enemies. I don’t know how they slept at night. Oh! Yes, I do. One was on major pharmaceutical drugs and the other polished off at least one bottle of red wine every night and passed out in his chair.

They don’t tell you these things about rich people in glossy magazine portraits or on Facebook.

Poor Little Rich Kids

“Suniya Luthar, professor of psychology at Arizona State University, found that children of affluent parents had twice as much risk of developing mental problems as their poorer peers.”

Occasionally you get glimpses of how horrible rich peoples’ lives must be when you see a famous, rich guy and his wife unable to take a joke and overreact in front of the whole world. Or, when someone who looked like they had everything OD’s or even commits suicide. All the money in the world won’t fix how you feel about yourself or take away your problems. It just buys you more distractions and more stuff that you have to worry about insuring, maintaining, or stopping others from stealing.

I think the trick is to try to stay away from the edges. Don’t become uber rich and try not to sink into abject poverty.

It’s All Perspective

One of my favourite quotes from Fran Lebowitz is about people who complain that they have too many problems. She advises them to go out and get addicted to heroin. Then they’ll only have one problem.

Sure, I get down sometimes and worry about things but when I really think about it, at least I don’t need to worry about anyone breaking in and stealing my old TV or VCR.

You know, everyone’s got problems and I kind of like my own problems better than anyone else’s. They’re really not so bad. Especially now that my underwear fit.


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