Category Archives: The Vicissitudes of Life

A Slight Aggravation About Which I Shall Write

Let’s say Bank A has the requirement that Action X must be supported by two years of business tax returns.

Let’s say that Bank B offers to see if Action X can be done without two years of business tax returns.

Bank B asks for an application and the last two years’ business tax returns. Customer has one year of returns, and submits that one year.

Later, Bank B asks for certain schedules that go along with that tax return.

Still later asks for W2s as supporting documentation.

Then W2s for the prior year.

Then, after a long wait, Bank B says sorry, Action X can only be done with two years of business tax returns.

Did they know that at the beginning of the process? Would not the second question be hello do you have a second year of business tax returns, because if not, we’ll have to put this off for a year? Is there any reason why the process should have proceeded beyond the first step if there were not two years of returns to study?

Looking at this example, perhaps the underwriters want to gather all the information together before making a decision, but if they need two years of business returns, all the information can be gathered together before the beginning even begins, and the refusal can be expressed without the customer having to make multiple trips to the bank, scan and copy additional documents, respond to emails, respond to snail mail, and make and receive telephone calls.

Any banky types out there? Why didn’t Bank B say no from the get-go if they needed two years of returns and the customer only had one year?

In the meantime, Perfect, what’s next?

Does Someone Else’s Misery Make You Happy?

Maybe you’ve heard by now that Josh Duggar is one of the people whose Ashley Madison account has been exposed by the data hack of the Ashley Madison website, which is a website married people can sign up on to instigate an extramarital affair. Maybe you had already heard that Duggar had been exposed recently as someone who had sexually molested some of his sisters while he was a teen. Maybe you don’t care. I’ve never been interested in the Duggars, but I read something today that got me to thinking.

I suppose the public response is no different than the one that occurs whenever someone who proclaims to be moral falls from grace. Jim Bakker and several others were shown to be hypocritical. When I saw the gleeful reaction today, though, it sent me to Google to look up “joy in another’s misfortune.” Apparently, this is extremely common, and explains why I never understood why people would laugh at someone who tripped and fell, or dropped their drink in the theater.

I’ve always thought it was mean to laugh at someone who does something embarrassing. Does that mean I take life too seriously? Would I be lighter overall if I laughed when people fell from places low and high?

Yep, Josh Duggar is in a world of hurt. Standing in a place of leadership about traditional family values and yet having the molestation in his past and the infidelity in his present. But I still feel sorry for the guy. He has been living a duplicitous life and that’s not easy to live with. Seems like anyone with a conscience would be wondering if any minute they were going to get found out. And the longer the hypocrisy goes on, the worse it is to get out of.

Let’s think about what he might have done instead. I don’t know the ins and outs of when he got married, became a father, became the head of whatever organization it is. But, all along he’s apparently been dealing with desires and urges that are decidedly incompatible with his upbringing and his brand of faith. From what I understand about the more fundamentalist brand, sexual urges are pretty much taboo. A man can have sex with his wife, maybe only in the missionary position (not sure about this), and that’s it. No masturbation. No pornography. No racy movies. No erotic literature. No affairs.

Although I don’t think all of those things are universally detrimental, I do not see how affairs could ever be healthy, even though there are people out there practicing polyamory, and some of them make it work. My belief is that monogamy is the best choice for a married couple. But masturbation, pornography, racy movies, erotic literature? Individual choice. I can’t psychoanalyze the man, and I can’t explain why he’s done what he’s done, but I still feel like it must be incredibly agonizing to be found out. To be such a public voice against the very things he has been indulging in.

So, it doesn’t make me happy to see him fall, except in the sense that perhaps this will be a step towards healing and wholeness. Maybe my deep and abiding experiences with shame in my life have made me a little more compassionate toward anyone who experiences it, I don’t know.

Sad indeed.

The Hive Report

While Twitter is battling over ESPN’s decision to award the Arthur Ashe Courage Award to Caitlyn Jenner instead of Lauren Hill, I’ve been battling over something much more present, but possibly less important to the world at large, especially Twitter.

A couple nights ago, I woke up with some itchiness. As it managed to keep me awake the whole rest of the night, I was able to ascertain that I had somehow acquired a big old hairy case of urticaria, also known as hives. I’ve been living my life for quite awhile flat out, with little margin for error, or for the misery of hives. Dr. Google told me they usually last for 6-12 hours, so that was my reference point. With no benadryl in the house, I had to wait until 6am to speed down to my local grocery and pounce on the allergy section. I had two benadryl in my system before I left the parking lot.

Yesterday was a rough day. I vacillated between feeling like I was going to go crazy from itching, to a couple hours here and there of benadryl-induced sleep. The doctor would be in my future if I didn’t wake up today 98% better. As it happened, I woke up 0% better. My sister had spent the night, tending to me, which if you don’t have a sister like this, let me tell you, you’re missing out.

Went to the doctor, told my story, got poked and prodded, received a prescription and went home. Oh, and the doctor gave me a zyrtec tablet, which is an anti-histamine. Her conclusion was that she thought my body was reacting to stress. Whenever I mention having a son who is in recovery from drug addiction, those who quantify stress shake their heads knowingly that this truly counts as a stressful situation.

Strange thing; before I had a chance to take the first dose of my medicine, I slept hard for a few hours. When I woke, the hives had improved dramatically. So weird. Five hours ago I was in agony and had been for 30 hours. Three hours later, I’m close to being fine. But I’ll take it!

I believe there is a connection between the mind and the body and that illnesses we have are ways of our body expressing something that is true in our lives. What spoke to me during this time was the importance of being able to receive. As is true for many women, I find it quite difficult to be on the receiving end of anything. But I recognize that that is a sort of pride, you know? I’m too [capable, perfect, unworthy] to receive.

As I think about the idea of receiving, I think about Kepler. He brings so much joy to people, just by being his sweet self. None of us earn his love and affection. He gives them freely. Who am I to decide that I don’t deserve it? We all are deserving of being loved.

Having hives has given me the opportunity to receive love and support from my sister, my husband, my mother, my daughter, my other daughter, my two older sons, Kepler, and even a few more people. And some of these outpourings of love were not of insignificant exertion! Whether or not there is objective fact in the understanding I have about the connection between hives and the importance of receiving, I know that receiving and giving are both human things to do. They are both loving things to do.

So, thank you, Universe, for the agony of itchy hives. Thank you for the loving gifts my family and friends lavish on me for no reason other than they love me. Thank you for the gift of feeling better.

“Completely Disposable Lunch” or Getting a Global Perspective

Kepler’s class went to the zoo on Thursday and the instructions were to pack a completely disposable lunch. When we went to the park the other day, we were instructed to pack a completely trash-free lunch. Both instructions make sense for the respective destinations, but I really hate plastic water bottles. I’ll probably be able to find peace by sending him a bottle of juice, even though the bottle will most likely not be recycled. (Oh, boy, first world problems, much?)

Sometimes when my more immediate worries quell, I think about the ocean and how much trash we are putting in that incredibly valuable resource. It’s like I want to go on a tirade or a crusade or a parade to get everyone to 1. stop using disposable plastic water bottles, 2. recycle everything they possibly can, and 3. get completely serious about Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

This is a great resource for solutions to reducing how much waste we are producing.

Some of my favorite ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle include the following:

1. Buying no disposable plastic water bottles.

2. Using a commuter mug for Starbucks drinks, although honestly I occasionally get something in one of their cups and then reuse it.

3. Recycling as much as possible. It is very difficult to buy food items that do not utilize packaging, so I recycle whatever I can.

4. Composting.

5. Reusing water from the dehumidifier in our table top fountains and our humidifiers.

6. Donating what I can rather than throwing it away.

7. Being conscious of how my usage impacts the rest of the world, as well as the earth itself.

8. Always looking for new ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle. There are times when I have a lot of energy for that, and other times when I am not able to focus on it as much.

9. Using my own reusable grocery bags and reusing the few plastic ones that I end up getting.

10. Reducing my usage of plastic bags. I still have a long way to go in this area because I find the whole washing and reusing thing to be cumbersome.

Erased all that because, yes, they are ways I like to reduce, reuse and recycle, but I wrote them a few days ago and then this morning had an experience that informed this post considerably. I volunteered with my son at Matthew 25 Ministries.

Matthew 25 Ministries

M25M is a worldwide shipping corporation and ministry that repurposes corporate items that would otherwise be discarded, provides relief for victims of natural disasters and helps empower people living in poverty around the world. I bet M25M isn’t perfect, just like no organization is, but what I saw got me excited about being involved in a very practical way of addressing the very real issue of children living without electricity, running water, and other basic necessities.

We began with the “global village tour.” I’ve never been amongst actual ruins from a hurricane or a tornado or flood. Pictures are not quite the same as looking as the ruins themselves. Something about the 3-dimensional aspect of the displays touched me deeply. I was in tears by the end as I thought about how great the need is, and how glad I am to live in the same city as this organization that is doing so much.

The son I was with is doing his court-ordered community service there, and invited me to go along. (One might say a silver lining in the cloud of dealing with the addiction and recovery process.) At the end of a life-changing week, I was totally surprised to discover this gem and to feel the pull it has on me to volunteer there and make a difference. I have the time and the resources and the desire. We only spent two hours there, but as we left, I realized THIS is my favorite way to reduce, reuse, recycle. Be a part of something that is making a difference in the lives of people in need. Even if it means providing plastic water bottles of water to people so they don’t have to, like, drink out of a filthy dirty puddle.

End of the Year Dance Recital

Saturday was Kepler’s spring recital for his dance class. I have no pictures to post today because they are all on the cameras and phones of other people. I chose to leave my phone at home and off on Saturday. I was just really tired of the non-stop pull toward my phone. Without my phone attached to me, I was aware of how often my thoughts went to using my phone for something or other. It was a nice respite, and I may do it more, but I do feel it is important for me to be accessible to my family, and that means having my phone handy.

At any rate, Saturday was the big day. The dance studio we go to is a highly competitive, very popular place. It’s also not close to our home at all. We make the drive because they offer the class for kids with special needs and Kepler loves everything about it. His dance was about halfway through the program and his group got some seriously enthusiastic applause and cheers. I loved seeing him up there, center stage, waving enthusiastically to us. I don’t even know how he could see us, but he did.

Prior to Kepler’s dance, I found myself growing more and more dismayed and disgusted by what I was seeing and hearing onstage. Even my 16yo daughter noticed that the dances did not seem appropriate at all for the ages of the girls. I went back and forth about this in my head because it has become more and more obvious to me that I’m not in the happening generation and I’m beginning to understand how and why older people have complaints about how younger people act, speak, dress, and exist.

The problem as I see it is that little girls were up there shaking their little booties, and doing other movements and motions that seemed very sexualized to me. The trend in dance is to have highly made-up faces, large glue-on eye designs, sparkly SPARKLY outfits, and lots of accessories like shiny gloves. Here’s a photo of a couple of girls from our studio:


Does it affect a little girl’s childhood to be regularly dressing like this and dancing like this? There was one group of girls who did basic ballet, and they were dressed in more traditional tutus. That seemed beautiful to me. The rest of it just seemed mostly trashy, not to mention the pounding dance party music that was blasting through the speakers while the little girls “shook their thang.”

Do we actually want children to have a childhood? What does that even mean anymore? My daughter is in a show choir now at 16 and dances. Even her choreographed dances are more tasteful than what I saw on Saturday. She has never taken dance classes, and I looked at her Saturday and said well, I guess we made the right decision because there is no way I would have ever been ok with this. (N.B. I made no decision — it was simply a matter of not deciding to make dance classes happen — there are dance classes that are wonderful for children that I would have been happy for her to be a part of.)

Perhaps there are feminism issues at play here. I’m not sure. I’m all for little girls dancing, and exuberantly at that. I am just wondering if we parents might want to think about what we are promoting when we put our precious little children on stage, dressed like strumpets, to the music of Snoop Dog, imitating Beyonce’s dance moves..

Belated Thoughts about Belatedness

“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”  Dr. Seuss

If you are in my IRL circle of people whose birthdays I recognize, you may have noticed that I am nearly always late with the sentiments. If you have not yet joined that group, let me tell you, I am almost always late.

My son turned 21 the other day. I’ve known now since April 28, 1994 that he was going to be turning 21 on April 28, 2015, and even with 21 years advance notice, I still couldn’t manage to get anything in the mail. What to heck, as the kids say these days.

One reason I am late is I am always looking for the perfect gift. Well, looking might be too strong a word. I am always waiting for the perfect gift to magically fly into my house, wrapped, packaged with postage applied, in time to get there for the birthday. As I seem to do in a few areas, then, I procrastinate about it because the perfect gift doesn’t exist.

Another reason I am late is that I find gift-giving to be completely nerve-wracking. Maybe this is just an extension of the perfection excuse, but I don’t know anyone who needs another thing in their lives, including my own children. We are surely in the top few percent of wealth in the world, and we have everything we need, even though we can always find more things that we want.

I have serious baggage about gift-giving. And receiving. There are a few gifts that I have given or received that have been spectacular, and some of them have even been free. My graduating-from-college-THIS-WEEKEND daughter (hashtag ass PANTHER) created “Desperaux’s Recommendations for Their Mother on the Occasion of her Birthday,” which I will always treasure. That’s just one example. When I give someone something, I want it to be memorable, special, unique, and especially for them.

I believe where I get most hung up is in projecting onto the receiver what I imagine their response will be to my gift. I often imagine them being disappointed. And again I say, WHAT TO HECK.

Then there’s the aspect of who to give to, and which “insert category here appreciation day” requests to respond to. And then there’s Christmas for all the people, and end of the year for all the people, and that’s on top of birthdays and family Christmas and baby births and weddings.

Years ago, I made quite a few of the gifts I gave. To me, a handmade gift is pretty dang special. But, you put procrastination together with fear of disappointing someone with my and their champagne and caviar tastes and it’s a wonder I ever get anything given to anyone at all.

Let us then consider implementing some of the most excellent things I have learned to see if we might transform this little nuisance/annoyance/monkey on my back.

Habits and beliefs that contribute to me being late:

  1. Thinking that the day before or the day of is soon enough to start looking.
  2. Believing that no gift I give will be good enough.
  3. Acting as though the perfect gift exists if only I think about it hard enough.
  4. Being double-minded about wanting to vs having to.

Questions to consider:

What if I declared today the day I am no longer compelled to give gifts just because everyone else is? No, that won’t work.

What if I decided that I want to give gifts? No, that’s not really the case right now.

What if I took time to really think about the recipient, and consider what I might do for them that would communicate how I feel about them? No gift I could ever buy would be able to equal how much my people mean to me, but I can still give something that says thank you, or i love you, or happy birthday, or bon voyage. What if I were to come up with some standard things, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel every single occasion?

Ok, so I’ll get some gift cards and keep them on hand as the perfectly imperfect gifts that I can give if the perfect gift doesn’t magic carpet its way into the house in time. Because, really, being late every single time just doesn’t serve anyone, and I can have fun with this. Enough with the dread, and procrastination, and perfection!