Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Humanity takes priority

Last Friday I traveled to Palm Springs to escape Los Angeles for the weekend. After investing about 3.5 hours to travel 90 miles I was ready to relax and let my crisis of a two week span dissipate with the companionship of a good friend, a couple of cocktails and some lounging around the pool. However, my friend who is always the wind beneath my tired and out-of-shape wings, taught me better than that. During conversation over dinner we discussed the plumbing problems at my parents’ house in Phoenix, AZ. He quickly made mention that if I wanted to travel there he would gladly help find a solution to the broken pipe, which prevented my father from having running water in the 100-plus degree weather. Shamefully remembering that my friend had fixed my parents’ pool pump, not once but twice over the past 12 months, I begged off stating that he was not responsible for fixing my parents’ house.

Now, being a single gal without a husband or a boyfriend that would happily oblige to perform such duties in order to shut my co-dependant guilty complaining down, I have always been the type to do whatever I can to solve the problem. In this case, the option was to remotely hire a plumber with the very little money I had. But no, my best friend not only had the experience and knowledge to figure out the problem, but he had the energy and quite frankly an overall altruistic eagerness that I could not turn down. So by Noon on Saturday we were on the road and after a nice four-hour drive with time to share the love of awesome music and catch up a bit we were at my parents’ house; and he did not spare one moment jumping right in on the project.

By 7 p.m. after lightly grounding the house’s electricity, we had a plan and a Home Depot shopping list, and we were off. Arriving back with a 10 foot galvanized pipe, which oddly fit in my car, we found the home without electric; a problem that my renaissance friend was able to figure a short-term solution to. We were then able to work in the front yard to make water run via a retrofitted with an extra female connection RV hose, galvanized pipe, a t-joint and two valves, all directly linked to the water main. By 11 p.m. we had running water, and a shady grounding issue we couldn’t figure out. Once again, my wise friend figured out a way to circumvent the pending house fire for the evening by using two extension cords, a coat hanger and a full head of knowledge (if you are thinking this is a MacGyver episode you are right, and he is).

Waking the next day it was back to work, and a new Home Depot shopping list. One problem after another occurred; a coupler that wouldn’t un-couple, a three-inch nipple fitting that was so corroded it would not stop leaking; in addition, the house needed to be grounded safely. Despite the fact that four days ago I would have not understood any of what I just wrote, I am proud. Not of me, but of my friend and my father. The two of them taught me. And when I am a homeowner I will be able to look at problems like these and be more informed, perhaps knowledgeable to someday fix issues like these myself. The plumbing problem solution of the weekend, while a temporary fix at present, provides running water to my parents’ home. And I could not ask for more.

The altruistic mentality and the humanity in others is what keeps me alive. If it were not for friends to help me lick my wounds and move on from a failed relationship, if it were not for co-workers who understood my plight and have supported me with comforting words, if it were not for my family who loves each another unconditionally and if it were not for the assistance my friends who have extended their companionship and love to me, then I don’t know what I would do. It is these individuals that keep me honest, keep me moving, make me take a lunch once in a while and take care of my parents with wisdom that I don’t have.

For all of these critical people in my life, I say thank you. And for this past weekend, I say thank you to my friend Benjamin. You, Sir, are an inspiration. Thank you for all I have said here and so much more. You have taught me a great deal and have helped me improve my life in so many ways. There are no “thanks” in the human vernacular that can truly express my appreciation.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The financial crisis – a personal anecdote

My personal credit crisis built long before the current credit crisis. When I was five-years-old my parents taught me about money; you had to work for it no matter what. Opportunity Cost was not a term a five-year-old knew, but I began to learn it with proper study and instruction.

When I was old enough to work, the power of money and the fleetingness of it soon became a weekly reality. It became the journey between “should I buy a bra”? to “what sox can I buy?” to “shouldn’t I be saving this for college books?”

I knew nothing about starting a savings account when I was 16-years-old. Instead I started cashing my paychecks at the local check-cashing station for their eight percent profit on my weekly work and then going down to the local record store to blow the basket on used CDs, videos and old cassettes. That’s before I knew I would have bills.

What I thought should have been a Stanford education soon became a pile of loans at Arizona State University. While ASU served me well, my family’s financial situation became difficult and with my penchant for adopting animals it became even more trying on the billfold.

Paying payments on a car, repairing said car and making $23, 000 a year just out of college, the credit card companies started to earn the interest they thought they would. A few Christmas seasons later I pitched a new strategy to the family, one hand-made gift going to the name you drew. It didn’t play out, nor did the spending I wanted to do. I wanted to buy my brother a new sound system for his car, I wanted my mother to have this new set of motivational books and for my father a GPS system for his “camping trips.” But I couldn’t deliver on any of it. Instead, I spent hours crafting scarves that would never be used, from yarn and fine-tuning the art of crochet that I learned in my apartment complex when I was nine.

The lesson I learned was that I would very much prefer a hand made gift (although rare with the fast paced society of today) to the junk, store bought token of a gift or even gift card. But for my own personal mental whipping, I put upon myself that I was the golden child, the college child, the one who would run off to Los Angeles and make dreams, and money, happen. Well, LA didn’t do that for me and I thought I couldn’t deliver. So I shut down. My body, my mind, everything shut down. We were poor, and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it aside from getting better. Better at my job, better at understanding one’s financial limitations and better at expressing love not through money but through action.

I recently had the opportunity to spend a four-day weekend with my father in Phoenix. At first all I knew was that I would need to spend some money on food for the cats I have adopted over the years, food for my guests that would come to the house and some TLC for the pool. When I arrived I could not even get to the pool area, and I knew much work had to be done to the yard. After four-hours of work I had to pick my friend up from the airport. That night I was silently embarrassed with all that I had not accomplished, and then he woke up early the next day to work with my father. I then waking sore was ready to work with them. Six hours later, the back yard became something of beauty and the pool was almost full.

That is an action of love. I am so grateful that I was apart of a memory that will last for not only for my family but also for those who were witness to it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Back in the Blogosphere

Several years ago, I wanted to take up blogging. A way to express myself, share my experiences, keep in touch with long lost friends and, gulp, get involved in the “global conversation.” It was at that time that I had posted what I thought was well written commentary on anti-gay hate speech.

Because of this blog post, I learned just how thin my skin was. My nice piece of commentary sparked controversy and had religious types from all over America posting hateful comments not just about what I wrote, but about me. After four days of fielding and responding to their angry voices I decided to break the cardinal law of blogging and deleted my post along with the comments.

Several years later, the deleted blog is still referenced on a Christian Marriage webpage as an example of “marriage in the media,” despite the fact that the blog had nothing to do with marriage at all but rather referenced a particular church’s hateful speech surrounding Heath Ledger’s death. How do I know this you ask? Well, I Googled myself, of course. Not that I do this daily, anymore.

Seeing my name on that Google link and remembering all of the activity surrounding that one little blog, I once again became inspired to write. Not because I want to be controversial, if you can call discussing gay-rights and anti-hatred of anyone controversial, but because I love to write, I love to interact, and if I have learned anything over the past two years it is to grow a thicker skin.

So maybe my blog will blow up and I’ll get a following of readers who are interested, maybe it won’t. Maybe I’ll post something that strikes a nerve in someone and they’ll become enraged, maybe I won’t. Whatever may come, I am back and still looking for love and success in Los Angeles.