Shanah Tovah

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A, Not OK

I feel sad, and hurt, angry, scared, numb, like I want to sleep, I want a hug, or maybe a drink. I want to rage and cry and none of that will solve anything.

This was the first real attempt, actions instead of just words. Still don’t know if you succeeded but at least I didn’t find you dead. It’ll be a long night and even if you’re mad about this I will defend my reaction. I’d rather lose a friend because I fought to save their life than to lose one to death.

I Win

I just survived the great fludemic of 2017. Many hours of PTO were surrendered to the dreaded virus,  as well as untold memories never made because I had to quarantine myself in my house and cancel all plans for the entire week. I don’t remember ever being sick for that many days in a row (5) before. I hope I never have to endure that again,  it was akin to a hell of sorts. I’m just happy I can think again,  and even though I know it’s not fully over yet I’m just happy to not be running a fever anymore. FLU SUCKS!

 

Realizations

I think I can count on one hand the times I’ve grabbed my “real” camera to go on any type of photo shoot since the police came to seize my laptop so they could check it for evidence of child porn over a year and a half ago. I never did get the laptop back, even after ex husband died and their case against him was a moot point, the police refused to give me my laptop back or even a copy of my extensive picture collection I’d edited and stored on it for years.  *disclaimer for anyone who doesn’t know the back story…I do not and never have looked at child porn,  it was my now deceased ex husband who’d bookmarked some sites that contained (among other things) images of child porn and I about died of horror the day I found out.

I’ve told myself a lot of excuses since that day on why I don’t feel like taking my camera out. Grief over the death of my dad,  plus miscarriages,  plus finding out husband bookmarked those porn sites,  plus the divorce,  plus the rest of my immediate family falling apart…the list was endless. What I never considered was the effect losing a huge chunk of my work meant to me. I didn’t stop to think about the connection of that loss being tied to pictures in of itself. I had so many pictures of my niece on that laptop,  of my friends kids from all the family photo shoots I did…frozen moments of time where they were being silly or happy. Did some police officer spend hours of time searching through my neatly organized folders just itching to find one that would prove I had any intention of exploiting an innocent child? That concept actually did cause me trauma. I felt like my entire body of work was somehow sullied just by association. I think that,  more than the rest,  is why I can’t bring myself to pick up my camera and try to capture an interesting or beautiful moment. I love(d) photography,  it was a creative outlet but now I just use my phone for everything because I’ve never associated cell pics with being “real” photography. I don’t even own a laptop anymore and I keep putting off getting one. I think I need to find a way to try and get over this. Yes I lost everything, but I can’t let it stop me from building up a new collection. It’s crazy the things we hide from ourselves because of negative emotions and fear.

Lies Are Easy, Truth Is Hard

As I drove home listening to the news I heard about snapchat being valued at 25 billion. Why, I wondered, would it be worth that much? Granted I haven’t used it in years but a friend told me about the new features and how people liked to subscribe to celebrities because presumably they can feel like they know famous people better. It got me thinking again.

Why do many people spend more time cultivating relationships with people over social media or the Internet and less time investing in real life interactions and relationships? Why limit yourself to acquaintance networks that never really scratch the surface of the people in them? Sure social media and acquaintance networks are easy because they require minimal effort to establish and maintain,  but they also offer little back in return and are the equivalent of fast food friendships. Where’s the substance? They aren’t built on a strong foundation and can fall apart much easier because there is such a paltry investment required of them. In relation to the people who follow or subscribe to celebrities,  the entire concept that you have any connection with them at all is basically an illusion. Of course fiction is much easier to create and maintain than real life.

I wonder if it’s this very proclivity towards illusionary,  low-effort relationships that contributed to an environment where someone like Donald Trump could become president. Sometimes I feel like we live in a world where it’s easier to believe the lies than it is to believe the truth. I’m not ok with that. I must belong to that camp of people that value quality over quantity. I value truth over lies even if the truth hurts. I want genuine relationships with the people in my life, I want to experience events for myself and make memories that mean something to me.

How did humanity get to this point? Alternative facts shouldn’t be a thing. Having to be highly skeptical of every single accusation that comes along because there were people willing to lie about events just to create more chaos in the world makes me want to cry and rage, which might have been the point. What message are we sending to the world,  to younger generations? Some things need to matter and effort must be exerted. Yes lies are easy and truth is hard but a world without substance isn’t sustainable.

 

Priorities

I used to focus on money…a lot. I’d save as much as I could, my “nest egg” was never big enough and I would work longer hours and burn myself out so I could make more and feel more secure. I would chose work over play, and limit myself on food, clothes and fun just so I could keep more of what I earned. I thought if I reached a set amount of money that I could finally relax and start living my life the way I wanted to. Money would buy me freedom.

This is what I thought until I hit a major bump in my life. I was working for a company that, unbeknownst to me, was in the process of going bankrupt. I ended up being demoted (along with many others) as they started to close down stores and saw my pay cut in half. Around the same time I learned that a previous roommate had forged my name onto his student loans years back and my credit score was now taking hits as his loans went into collections since he wasn’t paying on them. The apartment I was living in was full of mold in the carpets and vents and I couldn’t live there but the rental company wouldn’t let me out of my lease even with solid proof of my claims. It wasn’t money that came and saved me. Money didn’t solve any of my problems. It was the people around me that were willing to be there and help me, support me, love me…that is how I managed to hit that bump and keep going.

I moved out of the moldy apartment and stayed with a friend (rent-free) till my lease was up. I found a new job with the help of another friend who referred me and was happy to get out of the retail/service industry. My cousin helped me find the right contacts to prove to SallieMae that I had never agreed to be a co-signer and my name was forged by previous roommate and I got my information removed from the loans. I still thought money was important and I would still get stressed out feeling like I didn’t have enough, but I was starting to see that there was far more value in my relationships with others.

Getting married was a huge challenge on the money front. It was a major source of stress and fighting between us because we had different views on it. He assumed we’d figure it out no matter what and I wanted to know that I had a cushion to fall back on. I started to focus on the money again…instead of on the people.

Then came the husband injury and the unemployment and then the fire…which resulted in getting a bunch of money to replace things and having that large chunk of money in the bank didn’t change my stress level. I didn’t feel any different, no safer, no more fulfilled. I told myself then it was because husband was spending the money as fast as we were getting it. Eventually I got sick and tired of fighting with husband about his excessive spending and gave up stressing about money. I made sure I made enough to cover all the bills and stopped expecting anything from him. I decided my relationships needed to be more important than money.

If you think about it…money is an arbitrary concept and holds only the value we agree upon. US currency isn’t really backed by anything other than faith in the government. Most money is virtual now as well…numbers in an account that could be wiped out with the push of a button. Your assets could be seized by the government or skilled hackers and what would you do? Where would you go? Who would you turn to? Instead of focusing on making as much money as possible I have started focusing on building my skillset. Learning how to utilize what I already have and what is around me to accomplish tasks instead of just buying something new or hiring someone to do it for me. I focus on building stronger relationships with people. I no longer tally up a mental account balance in my head over what they’ve spent on me vs. what I have spent on them. I value time and events over making additional income. If I had to take on additional work to make money to cover my bills I would, but if I don’t have to I would rather spend my time making memories I can look back on fondly. Money is useful, but if I had to make a choice today I would choose the people I care about over money every time.