Have you ever felt like you were cursed; like Midas’ nemesis, where everything you touch turns to crap instead of gold?
Have you ever tried drinking a swig of holy water (yes, I have holy water in my house, what Italian Catholic doesn’t?) to try to see if it will cure you from whatever is wrong with you?
The last two weeks have been all about perspective, and I definitely need to work on changing mine. Who wants to be the whiner who is always saying “woe is me” (or “woah, is me” if you’re Joey from Blossom). Nobody wants to hear that, and nobody wakes up and plans to feel that way throughout the day, at least I hope not.
I looked up definition of perspective; it has several definitions. The first is about drawing two dimensional figures and the comparison of height, width and depth. The third definition (which I’m not nerdy enough to comprehend) is about the spacial distribution of perceived sound. Yeah. I just said that.
I’m definitely not an artist (my sister and brother got all of that talent in the gene pool), so let’s forget definition number one. I’m also not a scientist, nor do I walk around saying “Bazinga”, so let’s scratch definition number three (cough…nerds…cough). That leaves us with the second definition – also the actual thing that I’ve struggled with this last two weeks. Perspective: 2. a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view. That’s the one.
I like to think of myself as a happy person. I smile a lot, most times because I want to, sometimes because I’m supposed to and even times when I don’t want to; because faking a smile can sometimes help you actually begin to feel better.
I do yoga, I meditate “I am happy, I am healthy, I am safe, I am peaceful and at ease.” I try to be kind when I can and remember to laugh and have fun with everything, because if you can’t laugh at yourself, that’s when you know you’ve really got issues.
April started off harmless enough; yoga, a movie with friends, pizza night with some more friends. I was excited that the start of baseball season fell on a Monday. I work from home on Mondays, and the idea of working and having the Yankees game on in the background made me the happiest girl in the world. Until the game got postponed due to weather. What weather? It’s beautiful here. I’ve been waiting six months for a postponed opening day; how anticlimactic.
But it was really when I sat down to do my taxes that I felt the immense shift in the tectonic plates (or maybe that was just my crappy couch?). I owe money every year. And every year I whine about it a little and tell my mother I’m going to change my withholdings at work and every year I inevitably promptly forget and then curse when the next year comes around. Whatever. It’s life. This year I had Siri set a reminder for me when I got to work the next day and I actually did it. Problem solved.
See, we all have problems, but it’s what we do about them that separates us from the next person. We can whine about it, feel like the victim and say why is it happening to me?, or we can take action. If we take no action, nothing changes. But sometimes, that is easier said than done.
As I finished my taxes, I noticed it was feeling a little hot and sticky in my house. In Phoenix, we can turn the air on as early as February some years. The next two days were supposed to be almost in triple digits. I got up, peeled off a piece of leather that was stuck to the back of my leg (yes, my couch is dying a slow, painful death) and went and stood under the register in the ceiling of my kitchen. The fan was on and the air was coming out, but it wasn’t cold.
I went from room to room, sticking my hand up as close as I could get it to each register, which if you know me, isn’t very close at all because I’m roughly the size of a tall midget. Or tall little person. Whatever the proper term is today. No cold air. I called the people who had installed my air conditioning ten years ago, they could come out in three days. I whined to my friend Marie who promptly gave me a number for a company she knew and boom, just like that, they were coming out the next morning. Action.
I would have to work from home the next day in order to be here for them…wait…that meant that I would get to have opening day on in the background while I worked. Silver lining. Maybe God (who is clearly a Yankees fan) wanted me to be home.
AC guy came and went, along with a new motor and a new air compressor…almost as expensive as sitting in those front section seats the Yankees have that no one ever sits in because no one can afford it and when they show tight shots of the batter, makes it looks like absolutely no one is at the game? Yeah, that.
I know everything comes in threes, but I thought, hey, I already had to buy a new refrigerator this year (which you all know about painstakingly, since you’ve been reading my blog) until the car started shaking on the highway a few days later. And, if you read my blog, you know how that turned out. Getting yelled at by the Nissan guy, flipping out and having to have a rental car for the night.
On the plus side, Nissan guy profusely apologized the next day. A real apology, not one that I had to get out of him or one that someone else had forced him to give. And after the week I’d had, all was good. All was forgiven (and I got a nice discount on my repairs). Nary a nasty letter that I’d already crafted the night before was sent.
That’s why you take a beat. That’s why you take a breath. Give yourself time to calm down, give the other person time to calm down. Look at things from another perspective. Try to come from a place of understanding.
My mom always says to be kind to everyone you meet. How do you know that person is not Jesus? She used to always ask me that when I would criticize or make fun of someone. How do you know they’re not Jesus?
A few years ago, I was visiting my friend in Seattle. A homeless person kept coming up to us, asking for money for soup. I had told my friends the “what if they’re Jesus” thing earlier that day in the hotel elevator (I think, because we were making fun of someone). My friend handed them money and whispered to me as we walked away, “What if it’s Jesus?”. We saw that same homeless person at least three times that weekend, in all different parts of the city. Each time, my friend handed them a few dollars and whispered to me “what if it’s Jesus?”.
I like to go to church when I’m on vacation, if I’m in a cool city that has a cathedral. Seattle has a beautiful one, St. James (which is also the same name of the church that I grew up in). He is the patron saint of pilgrims and laborers (I had to look that up). Fun fact, he was beheaded. Anyway, we go to mass that Sunday and it’s so amazingly beautiful inside that I can’t help but take pictures with my phone (before mass started of course); the ceiling, the stained glass windows, it’s all breathtaking.
I see the usher coming over to us and I think, Goddammit! And then I think, wait, I can’t say that in a church! And then I look at our clothes and think, maybe since it’s a Cathedral we’re supposed to cover our shoulders? Is this dress showing too much cleavage? Is he going to confiscate my phone?!
“Hello” he says kindly. “You look like visitors, where are you from?” After we tell him, he asks if we want to take up the gifts. Amazed and honored, we both nod. Now, if you’re not Catholic, taking up the gifts means that after they collect the money halfway through mass, you go stand in the back and take the basket of money, and the wine they’re going to bless, up to the priest. You walk down the isle with it, everybody looks at you and makes you self conscious, why did I wear such a low cut dress to church?
The part comes when we’re supposed to go stand in the back and wait for the collection to be over and while we’re back there, the doors from the outside open and who of all people walks in? Our homeless lady. My friend and I look at each other and tears start to form. What if it IS Jesus? By the time we got back to our seats, she was gone.
I try to remember that story whenever I get super upset randomly at someone else. I don’t know the day they’re having. I have no idea what they are dealing with when they go home and lie in their own bed. Perspective.
This morning, almost a week after my tax, AC and car debacle, I wake up and let the dog out like normal. I turn on the shower, pick out my outfit for the day. Let the dog back in. I notice that she’s sniffing in front of the cabinet by the sink in the kitchen. I walk over and see a weird, dark water stain where she’s standing.
I open the doors of the cabinet and realize I’m standing on wet tile. My faucet has been leaking. At this point, I can either cry or take action. As I grab towels, I start to laugh. What else can go wrong? I bought this house ten years ago and replaced everything all at once: redid the kitchen, got a new air conditioner, bought a new fridge. It’s been ten years and everything is just getting old. It’s been used. It’s been worn, and shit’s gonna happen.
After cleaning up the water, I calmly check the leak. Faucet issue, for sure. Thank god it’s not a pipe. I put a pot under the leak. I bring a fan over and point it directly at the cabinet, I know how this works. I turn the water off at the main line into the house as I leave for the day. There are worse things in life, right? Remember that Seinfeld episode where Kramer installs a garbage disposal in his shower and makes a meal for Elaine, Putty and the germaphobe lady? That could be me!
After work, I go to get my emissions test done, something you need to do in Arizona every other year when your car is over five years old (mine just turned five) in order to get your yearly registration renewed. My car is in perfect condition, I know because I just paid for it to be that way. I’m smiling at the attendants as they check it, happy that there was no line and I got to pull right in.
The guy smiles back at me as he hands me the paper and says “your car has failed the emissions test. Go inside and they’ll tell you what to do.” I’m sorry, my what? My perfect car? How? So instead of crying, I remember – action. Evidently there is a data link chip (computer chip) in my car that is not working. Everything else is fine. I have 60 days to get it fixed and come back for a retest, “and the best part” the guy behind the counter says to me enthusiastically “is that you don’t have to pay the $20 for the test again!” That’s the best part? Really, dude?
So I call my guy at Nissan, thank God we made up…thank God I never sent that letter….”it’s probably just a blown fuse, bring it in and I’ll take care of it.”
And so tomorrow, I embark on another day, hopeful that it is just a blown fuse. That I’ll pass my emissions, that nothing else in my house will break. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned these last two weeks, it’s that no one is trying to punish me. This is life. Sometimes things miraculously go your way (with or without drinking a swig of Felix Felicis – wait, I take back what I said before about nerds) and sometimes, stuff happens! I should be thankful these things gave me ten years of life.
What I do know, is that I am lucky to have parents who call and ask what they can do to help. I’m lucky to have siblings that check on me every day to see how I’m doing. I’m lucky to have friends that go with me to Home Depot and help me pick out new flooring for my living room. I’m lucky to have a job to go to every day that I love, with people that actually care about me, that I actually care for back. I’m lucky to have legs to run with and arms to support me in weird yoga poses. I’m lucky to have a healthy dog, who greets me everyday with a wagging tail and a toy in her mouth, begging to play fetch. I’m amazingly lucky to have this life, broken fridge, broken AC, broken faucet and all.
I could focus on all the things that go wrong. I could focus on all of the things that I don’t have; all of the things that I expected to have at this stage of life or at this age and don’t. But when I get overwhelmed, I try to take a look at things from another perspective. I am happy. I am healthy. I am safe. I am peaceful and at ease. Most importantly – I am loved.