I Will Literally Die…Ironically, Of Course

Trends are a funny thing. I tend to stay away from them because in the end, they just date you. Fortunately I recognized that back in the 80s when multiple ear piercings were all the rage. I had friends, conservative mom types, who had up to seven piercings. Now they’ve got a series of tiny scars.

I don’t know that those scars are so horrible. Certainly not like some of these tattoos are going to look as people age. If you must get a tattoo, look at your parents — or grandparents — and picture it on their sagging skin before you decide where to ink up.

Today it’s those cold-shoulder tops you see everyone — I mean everyone — wearing. I was in line while shopping when the woman standing behind me called over a 60-something friend.

“Oh, I just love your t-shirt!” she said in reference to a blue peekaboo number. “Your shoulders are beautiful. You look ten years younger.”

I couldn’t help it. I turned to look. The top was cute, if you like the style, but for crying out loud, I’m quite sure she didn’t look a day younger because her shoulders were on display. Well, wearing something current would help. I’ll give you that.

Are you reading this post ironically? If so, tell me what that means. Okay, I know what it means, so I know you’re using the word incorrectly. I looked it up in case there was an obscure definition people pulled from. That would have impressed me. There’s  not.

Fashion body art, vocabulary — it all comes and goes. For those of you using the word ironically to mean you’re doing something you normally wouldn’t do (we used to call it guilty pleasure), you may have started something. Ten years from now “ironically” may have an additional definition.

Like literally. I’m told it’s now acceptable — according to some word gods out there — to use it when you mean figuratively. That ticks me off. A decade or two of misuse and we just change the meaning of a well-defined word?

I apologize to all of you learning English as a second language for such thoughtless acts. Well, it’s not my fault, so I can’t apologize. But I empathize.

And not ironically. Literally.

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The Power of Information

Recently I received a notice from my state’s Department of Workforce Services. Apparently I had underreported my income when filing a claim for unemployment, which they take seriously. I don’t doubt that there are those who have gone to jail for this type of fraud. In my case, it wasn’t deliberate. I simply had underestimated my week’s earnings by $1.53.

I ‘fessed up to the mistake, confident they would see it for what it was and fully willing to write out a check to correct the error.  Turns out it’s not that simple. The amount isn’t what’s important. They were primarily concerned with my intent.

I eventually received a notice saying it was determined I hadn’t committed fraud and I was in the clear. Before this, however, I had to fill out a form claiming financial difficulty would prevent me from paying back the state. It actually wouldn’t; I’m broke but could shake $1.53 out of my penny jar if necessary. But not making an official statement about my finances would lead me down a dark road.

I took care to keep any sarcasm or snarkiness out of my answers in the multiple questionaires I completed through this entire process, but I can’t promise I was entirely successful.

I mean, really. You have to precisely report your weekly income, but not everyone (myself included) has access to the exact amount they’ve earned. Even if you have a down-to-the-minute accounting of your hours, it’s easy to make a mistake in calculating the week’s salary.

I’m sure our state lawmakers pounded their fists when voting on the unemployment fraud laws and said, “they must answer for any discrepancy!” leaving the DWS with a ridiculous amount of paperwork for honest human error. I’m betting most of those suits have never stood in the unemployment line or gone through the tedious and somewhat degrading process of collecting money when you’re out of work. Their decisions are academic.

Which leads me to wonder: how many other decisions do they make without valid background information? Don’t get me wrong. I have a great deal of respect for our elected officials as a whole. They are tasked with challenging decisions on a day-to-day basis.

But they don’t always know what their votes mean.

We have a responsibility to paint a picture with our words for our state and federal congresspeople. Fill in the blanks for those who sincerely want to do right (let’s work with that assumption). The controversial issues make the headlines, but there are  mundane decisions made every day.

Like where you draw the line in unemployment fraud. How much did it cost the state to process my error when a first glance would tell a reasonable person that, indeed, no fraud was intended?

Do we have the time? Do we believe it will matter? I’m confident that a well-written letter can make a difference.

You can make a difference.

The Final Forgiveness

There are those who hurt us and infuriate us, people who forever remain oblivious to the harm they are doing. They are locked into their own understanding of what is good and right.

You want to honor all they’ve done for you, but seeing them comes with a price. It is a constant battle of wanting to rise above knowing you will only be dragged below by your good intentions.

At what point do you let go?

It is best, purest, if it can be done now and the issues are put behind you. But they are difficult to let go of. We are human; we are — on both sides — in many ways locked into who we are and what we believe. It protects us, guides us and provides us with clarity. So perhaps you forgive, only to be set up once again for a battle of wills and false understanding. It is a vicious cycle.

Then you hear: he is dying. He is hanging on, but soon will be gone.

It is time for a final forgiveness, an acknowledgement of our own failings and the knowledge that the temporal, in the end, is a wisp of smoke, dissipating into thin air.

It is time, but it is still hard. You haven’t been heard. There have been assumptions and presumptions that wound. Rumors and lies that become fact in the minds of others.

What does it matter? His death isn’t the final word because you go on living. What matters most?

Refine me, O Lord, open my blind eyes and lead me down the path of forgiveness.


Image courtesy of Pixabay

 

If You Are Burdened…

I loved my Kate Spade handbag.

It was practical and stylish, two words common to describing her designs. I was lucky — I got it half-off, something the snide sales person had no problem disdainfully pointing out when I paid for it (a story for another day). Never mind him. I had my Kate Spade handbag.

I carried it for years, until the wear and tear made it too embarassing to use any more. That’s my sole connection to Kate Spade. But when I heard about her death today, I was moved to tears. The story is coming out that she committed suicide, and that breaks my heart.

A friend who was at one time suicidal described to me what she felt in this way:

“It was like there was weight on my body, an outside pressure that made it hard to breathe. All the sorrow and pain I’d felt in my life was trapped inside of me. The only thing I wanted to do was break away from it, and death seemed like the only option.”

She made a phone call and followed the advice of a professional. Later she had to work her way through the physical, emotional and spiritual pain. Today she tells me she no longer struggles with those feelings and their burden, but it took her some time to deal with the issues that caused them, including physiological factors.

I am not a professional, nor in any way am I trained to advise someone who is feeling suicidal. If you are suffering with those feelings, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.


Image Credit: ©eyetronic – stock.adobe.com

 

Cloud Talk

Today I was early for work, so I leaned back in my car and watched the clouds float by. It was a windy day and they were moving quickly.

Like Charlie Brown and friends, I sought images in the sky. First face I saw was a cameo-like profile of s woman. It morphed into the Grinch of Dr. Seuss fame, and then became nothing more than abstract poofs.

I moved on to the image of a mountain lion, and began to wonder if some legends of old found their start in cloud formations. I know the stars inspired some stories, but what about clouds?

What inspires stories, the tall tales or myths of today? We hear sometimes of odd prompts that influenced an author, songwriter or other artist. We don’t see the connection, but it’s there in the mind of the creator.

Where do you find inspiration when it eludes you? For some time now I’ve struggled with that problem. Frankly, it seems motivation is the bigger problem. I have none when it comes to my writing.

That’s not quite true. I want to want to write. I long for those times when the words come pouring out and I surprise myself with what my pen has put to paper.

Some of you have sent me private notes asking if everything is okay. The answer is, basically, yes. But I’m struggling with a few things and finding litte inspiration for my writing. So the blog posts are thinning out.

I believe my enthusiasm will return. I’ve looked to the Daily Prompts and found some help there, but those are ending. Word Press is making a lot of changes, and I’m not sure what’s coming next. I trust that those of you who’ve relied on the Daily and Weekly Prompts will find other inspiration, because I so enjoy your posts.

In the meantime, I watch the clouds float by and listen to hear what they might be saying.

 

Discerning the Assumption

They tell you not to assume anything. But I disagree.

I’m job hunting now, and it is (as others have told me) a demoralizing experience. But I assume at the end of the my search I’ll have a job. If not, what would be the point of continuing?

Maybe that’s faith, not an assumption.

I have a friend who’s told me she doesn’t enjoy going to movie theaters. We’ve stopped inviting her, because we know what she’ll say. It’s not that she isn’t welcome, and we frequently let her know we’re going so she can include herself if she wants to go. But why ask the question when you’ve already been told the answer?

That’s common sense, not an assumption.

When I was in college, I took a course with no prerequisites. It was, I was told, a bottom-line, basic, true beginners class — no prior experience required. It also was a graduation requirement. Turns out everyone in that class — except me — already knew these basics, so the teacher taught at a higher level and left me behind. He believed I must know more than I thought I did. After all, I was bright enough.

Now that’s an assumption. Fortunately I took the course pass/fail and he graciously passed me. I didn’t learn a thing.

There are times when we assume things based on the facts we have, yet that information isn’t complete. It seems so obvious, so clear what the situation must be, until that puzzle piece that’s been missing appears. I’ve said it before. We don’t know what we don’t know.

How do we know when it’s faith, common sense or an unfair assumption? Look at who you’re depending on for the information. That will shed some light. The rest is life experience.

Which I’m assuming you have. Just kidding. If you don’t have it now, you will soon.


Assumption

Image Credit: © Bigstock.com