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Whatever rings Mel's bells

Posts Tagged ‘frustration’

Housing: the latest

Found a new house!

It’s smaller than I want, but it has a huge workshop area in the basement. I’m going to section off part of that and finish it as a studio, leaving plenty of space for my lathe and casting equipment and bench grinder and all the rest! You know, the ones I don’t have yet because such things don’t fit so well in an apartment.

We went back and forth with the seller over price, but the guy really can’t move as he’s underwater. So we finally settled on a price and all the paperwork is signed and I have a house now… except for the financing.

See, he’s underwater on the house. And my down payment won’t cover the difference. So now it’s up to the bank. Hopefully the appraisal will come in high enough that I can get the loan. If not, I’m not sure what else I can do.

I may be out of moves on this one.

If it comes through, you’ll be subjected – I mean treated – to many photos. So stay tuned!

Inside my brain

Have you ever looked at a person who’s studying and wondered what’s going on upstairs? Humor me, and I shall describe what I’m experiencing. Perhaps you’ll find it interesting.

I’m currently studying AC Theory. Well, I’m currently writing a blog post to get a break from studying my AC Theory. But I digress.

The topic currently giving me figurative hives is inductance. I won’t go into the details, but basically it’s the principle that makes motors and generators work. When you put a magnet and a conductor together in the right way, you can turn motion into electricity, or vice versa. Wickedly cool stuff in practice, but understanding the principles behind it has proven a bit more complex for me.

When I say complex, I really mean incomprehensible and mind-boggling. Start with a bunch of brand-new jargon. You know, words that don’t make any damn sense, but which get thrown around to refer to very specific concepts.

Then, consider that the concepts themselves are new. So not only do I not understand the words being used, I also don’t understand what they refer to. This has led to a two-step approach for me. First, I ignore the terms and figure out the concepts, then second I back up and apply the terms to the concepts that I now can understand.

This is tricky enough when I have a teacher lecturing, but today I’m doing a make-up class, so I’m on my own. Just me and the ol’ textbooks.

Yup.

So how am I doing with all this, you ask. Well, to be totally frank it isn’t going well. I’m a bit overwhelmed.

Part of my psyche is babbling incoherently, curled in the fetal position in the corner of my brain and crying its little eyes out because it doesn’t, it can’t, and it won’t ever understand. That’s right, my starting point here is that I’ve utterly lost it. (Not an exaggeration; tho I’ve developed enough self-control that I won’t ACTUALLY do this, I have a clear mental picture of exactly how it would look.)

But it doesn’t stop there folks, because there’s another part of my brain that’s calling it quits. Yes, a not-inconsequential part of my mind has thrown up its hands, yelled, “DONESKI!” to the uncaring sky, and picked up its heels as it hits the road. Done and gone and not coming back. Nope. This is BS and I have better things to do. I’ll fail the test, study for another week, and then figure it out later. Don’t even care, my give-a-damn is past repair.

The rest of my mental faculties have spent the last hour and a half idly scanning the text, trying to string together the words on the page in a way that will make some form of sense. I read the questions in the work book, turn to the text to understand them, and find that the concepts are presented in a completely different way. One book is full of square pegs, the other is populated with round holes. And I have to somehow build a saw that will cut one to fit into the other, without any experience or instructions.

What I’m saying is that it sucks a little.

It’s not insurmountable, but it takes a lot of effort. More effort than I would expect it to, in fact. Many of you know exactly how this feels; the comments field may end up populated with your similar experiences. (Please?!?) The answer is, of course, to finish this essay, shut the laptop so I’m not tempted to go to Facebook, and focus on my work. Which I will do very shortly.

So next time you see a student staring uncomprehendingly at a page, consider that seeming inactivity might mask a world of energetic (and psychotic) internal motion.

Songwriter’s block

I blog when I can’t write a song
‘Cause the words are all coming out wrong
The rhythm and rhyme
All end up out of time
And the meter in one line always seems to end up way too long for the rest of it, but I can’t seem to cut it shorter because I really want to say what’s already in there, you know? And I can never find a good way to restate it more concisely while retaining the meaning I tried to get at in the first place. So it really screws up the whole intent and the – um… Yeah.

Time to be moving on

I have some unpleasant news folks; due to some recent policy changes, I’m going to shut down my Etsy shop.  A few days ago I got an email sent out by the CEO of Etsy discussing these new “clarified” policies, and frankly I was appalled.  Etsy bills itself as a marketplace for handmade goods, but over the past years the “handmade” section has been taken over by mass producers pretending to be crafters.  By checking sites like CraftCount that track the top sellers, this becomes obvious.  The top several sellers are from Far East countries well known for large numbers of sweatshops, and with average daily sales in the hundreds for each of these shops it’s obvious these aren’t individual sellers.

Well, as of January 1st, the rules allow these sellers to hire employees, use fulfillment services, and even involve outside manufacturers – as long as they’ve designed the product.  By redefining the term “handmade” to include work that CLEARLY is not handmade, it puts the nail in the coffin of small, indie sellers like myself who not only design but also create all our own goods with our own hands.

So I’m leaving.  This is not a decision I’m making lightly; I’ve spent nearly five years on Etsy.  This change will affect every aspect of my business.  But I can’t compete with that demographic and I don’t want to.  That’s why I went to Etsy in the first place – because I want to be part of a community of small sellers like myself.

To make a long story short, I’ve started migrating my listings over to Zibbet.com as of this week.  To where, you say?  I know, I hadn’t heard of them before either.  But they have the potential to compete very strongly with Etsy in time.  The costs are lower to start up, they actively police listings and flag (and even remove!) shops that are out of compliance, and they have a firm reputation for fast and personal responses.

I hope you’ll come visit me at my new web home http://www.zibbet.com/MelsBellsJewelry which will be (slowly) filling up with all the same goodies from my Etsy site, as well as a bunch of new stuff you haven’t even seen yet!  Thanks for all your support, as always.  I’m trusting that this change, though frustrating for me, will lead me to a better community that I’ll truly fit into.

Election Night Message

I’ve kept (mostly) quiet about my political preferences this year.  Not because I’m ashamed, and not because I don’t want to discuss them or the issues at hand.

The reason I haven’t put them out there is that most of the people who do want to (I shall put this politely) “engage me in discussion” on political matters are actually only interested in two things: 1. beating other people over the head with their beliefs, and 2. hearing the sound of their own voices.

I have a handful of friends who I’m sure would have loved to actually discuss these matters rationally and calmly, with respect and appreciation for each other’s views, and with an openness of heart that would allow the possibility that not only could I be wrong, but they just might be wrong themselves.  These are unfortunately not generally the people who respond to my Facebook posts on religion, politics, or any other subject that might possibly engender disagreement.  The people who generally respond to such posts do so with personal insults against me or the person I support, ignorant statements that demonstrate a complete unwillingness to find the truth, thinly veiled talking points regurgitated straight from the source without any personal analysis, and lousy jokes on the level of, “That’s what SHE said!”

In short, I keep quiet ’cause I don’t want to feed the trolls.

That said, I do have something to say to those who supported Governor Romney this election season, and I figured I’d go ahead and say it.  In fact, this specifically goes out to the angry and frightened people, some few of whom are now expecting Armageddon to descend upon all of our heads in the form of hordes of undocumented illegal immigrants and flaming, tutu-wearing, glittery ‘mos who will steal their guns in the middle of the night and force their daughters to have abortions.  (Most of you are not that extreme, but some of you – please admit it to yourself if not to me – are actually afraid of the next four years.)

Okay, I’ll allow that you’re worried.  In fact, if you feel that your candidate was the best choice for the country, and the guy who won does not have the right answers, and therefore you are concerned with where the country is headed, then I actually applaud you.  People who think that way are concerned with the state of our nation because they want to see America succeed.  They want to not only be proud of our past, and proud of many things we have done and are doing, but to also be proud of our present.  They want to stand up and say, “We’re doing things right.  We have our shit together.  We take care of ourselves and each other, and we make this world a better place.”

Guess what?  I am 100% with you on that.  I want America to be a great and powerful and strong and well-run country too!  I want our citizens to be healthy and have the opportunity to succeed too!  I want a nation that is both safe and respected around the world too!

We won’t always agree on how that can happen or what we need to do to improve things.  We may not even agree on what “improved” means!  But I want you to know that, just like you, I want a strong and safe and healthy and successful America.  I also think that we have a great foundation and we do a lot of things right.  And I also think that we face a lot of challenges because we do a lot of other things wrong.  So we should be able to sit together over a drink or some coffee or a meal and talk about it like civilized humans.

Now let’s deal with this fear issue.  In 2004 I was afraid that Bush would be re-elected.  I didn’t like what he’d done with his first four years (I voted for him the first time!) and I was really worried about what a second term would do to the country.  Well, we found out.  It screwed us up, big time.  It left us with a huge national debt and no way to get out of it, bad blood with other nations, regulations that are friendly to corporate entities and the richest of the rich, and policies that drain the average worker of their life’s blood.

I don’t like these parts of our nation.  I don’t like the callous way our poorest and neediest people are treated.  I don’t like the way money can buy you damned near anything while the have-nots suffer indignity and privation.  I don’t like the way our elections go to the people who spend the most or the way our ballots themselves aren’t protected at the most basic levels.  (I’m looking at you, states with unverified electronic machines, and at you, Wisconsin that doesn’t let the military have their absentee ballots in time.)  I don’t like the attacks on women’s rights or the way a certain religious tradition has (since the ’50s) been legitimized.

Several of my friends and family members have talked about leaving the country if Obama lost.  Several different friends are now talking about moving because he won.

Don’t run away, people!  Stay here and work to make the country a better place!

Don’t like the way your Congresscritter voted?  By god, pick up the phone!  Take two minutes of your life and tell them why you thought they should have voted differently.  Or better yet, call them before they vote and tell them the following:  “As your constituent, I expect you to represent me.  I expect myself and my fellow constituents to be your highest priority and your most important so-called interest group.  I expect you to do what is right for the people of this district.  And I expect you to vote for/against this issue.  I and my neighbors are watching you, and we’re watching who contributes to your campaign, and we’re going to know if you throw us under the bus in favor of deep pockets.  We’re watching.”

Yes, people, I am telling you to get involved.  Once a month, sit down and look up a pet project or cause or idea.  Are you from a military background?  Do you ride a motorcycle?  Do you have kids?  Are you worried about the number of homeless you see on the streets?  Did you hear about a methadone clinic going in down the street from your favorite store?  What is on your mind?  What is bothering you today?

Look it up.  The entire internet lays before you – LOOK IT UP!!  Find two articles that support your position and two that oppose it.  Read all four of them.  Think about them.  If they spark any questions, look those up too.  Get yourself some answers.  And then – you guessed it – make that call!  Call your Congresscritter, call the President, call the Mayor, call your City Councilperson, call your County Commissioner, call the Governor.  Call whomever is in a position to do something about the problem – and tell them you want them to do something about the problem!

Or you can write a letter.

Or you can send an email.

Or you can show up on their doorstep (perhaps on Lobby Day with a bunch of your like-minded friends?) and tell them to their face.

Or you can wait till they do a town hall meeting in your area and tell them to their face then.

Are you catching on to my theme?  Find some issue that pushes your buttons, learn about it, and do something!  Voting is an important part of our civic duty, but if all we ever do is vote and then bitch about the results, we are not doing enough.

We.  Can.  Do.  More.

Please, don’t be afraid of what the next four years may bring.  Don’t focus on getting away from America, don’t focus on what might go wrong or what might happen later.  Focus on what’s happening now.  Focus on what you can fight for, or fight against, or change.

Six years ago, when the REAL ID Act was being discussed, I was able to go to Olympia for a Lobby Day.  I was able to meet with Rep. Eickmeyer and sit in his office discussing the bill with him.  We talked in particular about the technology used and the security problems it poses.  I will always remember the satisfaction I felt when I was able to teach him more than he already knew about it, and I will always be proud that I influenced his vote by talking to him that day.  That’s right, my visit changed the way my representative voted.  It’s an incredible feeling.  It’s powerful, and it’s humbling at the same time.  Because you feel like you’re part of the process, part of something bigger.  You start to own your government.  You don’t feel so much that the government owns you.

That’s a feeling every American should have.  In my personal opinion, the apathy and low voter turnout and acceptance of crappy results or poorly written legislation and its unintended consequences and all of that garbage would disappear if we got involved in the process.

So write a frikkin letter already!  Make a bloody phone call!  If you’re upset by the result, now is not the time to grab a beer and bitch with your friends about how bad it’s going to get.  Now is not the time to go to church and pray for the country to miraculously be saved.  Now is not the time to put all your life savings into gold bars and hide them in your custom bomb shelter with forty years’ worth of canned foods and bottled water.

Now is the time to roll up your sleeves and go talk to the people in power.  Now is the time for you, my Joe the Plumber Republican friends who work for everything you have and worry about the future your children will inherit, to step up and get involved.  Now is the time for you to tell your elected officials that you are paying attention to them.   Now is the time to learn more about the people on the other side of the aisle, to figure out what they want, and to push forward in those areas where your interests coincide.

Now is the time to make a better America.

Because people, we are all being played against each other.  And those who sit on the sidelines are exacerbating the problem, letting the people who pull the strings keep doing what they do.  So get on the field and start playing the game.

WOWI

No really, I’m thinking wowie that really sucked!

The WOWI aka World of Work Inventory is one of the hoops I have to jump through to get into the apprenticeship program I’m pursuing.  I took it at 3 in the morning because that’s when I remembered that I had to get it done.  I don’t think taking it in the middle of the night made a difference, it was going to be silly and frustrating whenever I did it.  And I’m a night owl.

Generally I do pretty well on these things; my interests are broad so I kind of come out all over, but that’s how I am in life so I guess if nothing else at least it’s accurate.  But there’s always one section that hangs me up, and I forgot about it until I got most of the way through the WOWI and this section slapped me in the face.

Abstractions.  That section where they give you four frames, or three numbers, or a few words, and you’re supposed to guess which one comes next in the pattern.  Some are easy – if they give you the letters  B   F   J  and the options are K, N, Q, or Z, it’s pretty easy.  Each of those letters are evenly spaced, so N is the next one in the pattern.  But what happens when they give you three words that start with the letter g, with four, five, and eight letters respectively?  Or what if they show four boxes with a clear pattern emerging, but the next step in the pattern isn’t reflected in any of the possible answer?

I can find all kinds of patterns in the string, I just can’t ever seem to find the one they want!  Well, that isn’t true.  I generally get about half of them right.  But when I get them wrong, MAN do I get them wrong!  As in, totally clueless, unable to even orient myself in the right direction, can’t-reason-my-way-out-of-a-paper-bag lost.

These things make me feel really stupid.  I get that feeling that the answer is staring me right in the face, and I’m too dumb to get it.  *grr*  I don’t like that feeling.

Conventionality

I had a moment today, as I was leaving the pet store walking behind a happy couple with a toddler in their shopping cart, when I wished for a conventional life.

I wished for the normalcy of a 9-to-5-working husband and house with a white picket fence.  I wished for a moment of being like everyone else, with 2.4 kids and a dog and church on Sundays.  I wished for a firm place in the community, clear social expectations, and neatly defined behavioral roles.

For just a moment there, I really wished I could sink into apathy and mediocrity and just be part of the faceless masses.

Then I shook my head and decided I’m going on tour next summer as a solo act.  If Gumby’s not still around, I can just rehome Princess and put all my stuff in storage, you know.  Have to give up my waterfront view, but I’d get to see a lot more of the country from the road.  And I bet I’d get a whole lot of songs written, too.

Onwardo.

Just so you know

I get asked a lot how I can stay positive all the time.  Tonight I will tell you all (again) that it’s simply a matter of deciding to think this way.

Case in point: this evening.

I feel like crap this evening.  I feel miserable.  I feel useless and I feel like I’ve failed.  I feel a lot of things, and they’re pretty much all bad.  And I’m not going to go into them because I don’t want to.

So as I get ready for bed, and as I do all the things that functionally I know will make me feel better (even though I don’t want to do a damned one of them), I tell myself that tomorrow will be better.  And if tomorrow isn’t actually better, then the day after that will be.  And if not, then the day after that.  And so on, and so forth.  Basically, sooner or later things will get better, and I’ll feel good again.  So just ignore the bad feeling now and know that it will pass.

I’ve told myself this often enough, and I’ve been right often enough, that I believe it.  And even though I still feel like crap tonight, I have hope that I won’t feel like crap for much longer.  It’s unpleasant, but it is effective.

So there you go: How to Not Feel Like Crap For Very Long 101.

Healing, perhaps

I guess it’s more than perhaps, it’s more like “apparently.”

Five years, seven months, three days, one hour, and forty-nine minutes ago, the first man I truly adored was killed.  He’d come into my lonely, desperate, incomplete life, and he filled all the empty spaces that bothered me.

Then suddenly he was gone.

Being the type of person I am, I of course pulled myself up by the bootstraps and went on with life.  *sigh*  I’ll be honest with you, I don’t really know how to grieve.  I don’t know how to lose.  I don’t know how to be hurt.  I just have no idea how to do any of that.  My default reaction is to take a deep breath, consider all the good things that still exist in my life, and move the hell on.

End of story.

After all, no matter what happens in my life, no matter how awful things seem, at least I’m still breathing, right?  At least I still have my health, and my sanity (or as much of it as I ever had!), and my ability to support myself, and my loving and wonderful family and friends.  So why should I dwell on what I’ve lost?  Why should I live in the past?  Why should I cling to something or someone that’s gone?

Unfortunately, my analytic mental processes don’t actually control everything that goes on inside.  So of course, recovering from The Loss Of My Entire Life was not (shall we say) a quick or easy process.  In fact, it’s still not finished.  Not even close.

But a few weeks ago I turned a corner, and tonight I turned another one.  (Does that mean I’m headed back the way I came?  *shudder*)

I spent 28 years wishing for someone who would make me feel wanted, and loved, and worthy, and wonderful.   I didn’t have him for very long, but he was instrumental in building me up to the (apparently) confident person I am today.

I’ve spent the past 5 years knowing that I’ll never find another person like him, and I’ve been not only grieving his loss, but the loss of that love and the loss of the way the love made me feel and the hope that I’d ever feel that loved again.

Oooh, there it is.  There’s the first epiphany.  I finally came to see that what I miss most about Mike Lucas is the way I felt when we were together.  Maya Angelou said it best, you know.  I will always remember the way he made me feel.  And I know I’m not the only one – anytime he walked into a room, the whole place would light up.  Everybody knew him, everybody loved him, everybody wanted to be around him.  He was just that kind of person.  Can you blame me for wanting to feel that again?

So a few weeks ago I realized that, and I realized that – wait for it – there might be someone, somewhere out there, who someday might make me feel that good again.  Who might make me feel that wanted again.  Who might make me feel like I belong again.

It could happen.  I believe it could.

So voila, there’s some hope.  And for me, hope is like air, in that I cannot live without it.  (I almost didn’t, in fact, but that’s another story.)  I now have hope that the thirteen months and thirteen days I spent with my First Mate don’t have to be the sum total of my belonging.

Huge.

Tonight I came to another confusion, as we like to say in my family.  You see, this Saturday would have been Mike’s 44th birthday, and we were talking about how to celebrate it.  I’m thinking a family dinner and maybe a toast…  Mom suggested releasing paper lanterns with messages written on them, which I really like.

But that got me thinking about how to remember him.  And how I can keep him in my life, even though he isn’t exactly in my life any more.  I acted the ass so thoroughly when I lost him (grief makes us do stupid things) that none of his friends or family talk to me any more.  His murderer is also his widow, so she gets to keep his name till she dies, she even got a frikkin’ television show.  Yeah, what do I get?  I get to feel like I’m nothing and nobody.  Which I am not, not by a long shot!  But it does feel that way.

Tonight I realized that I can, and should, find a constructive way to remember Mike.  Maybe find a cause to help in his name, maybe create something, maybe make a new tradition.  I don’t know what, I’m still working that out.  But I realized tonight that I’ve been looking for a place to put him in my life.  And because I haven’t had a place for him, he’s been floating all over and getting in the way, so to speak.

I think I’m finally getting started with this “moving on” and “healing” stuff that people have been talking about.  Sure has taken a while…  But I guess I’m a pretty tough nut to crack on some things.

Five years, seven months, three days, two hours, and twenty-one minutes.  And counting.

Depression

K, so if admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery, then I shall do so.

I’m dealing with some depression right now.  I’m at a crossroads in my life, and I’m feeling ready for a change.  But the change is taking so long in coming, it’s getting frustrating.  I was just saying last night, I’ve gone through the part where I let go of my plans and embrace the new paradigm.  So I’ve turned the mental corner and I’m ready for the new thing now.  But it isn’t coming!  So I’m still stuck here in my old life, the one that won’t work and isn’t working and that I’ve already given up.  But I can’t go on to my new life yet.

So I’m feeling really out of sorts and it’s really messing with my head.  I guess the only thing to do is soldier through and deal with it, huh?  At least I have friends who I can turn to and get it off my chest, which I really need to employ more often because it’s a much better coping mechanism than my usual ones.

Know what?  I think I’ll go clean the affirmations off my mirror and write a new one.  Something along the lines of, “You will succeed if you apply yourself.”  With the IF really big.

And then tonight I’m going to go see my wonderful family and celebrate my nephew’s birthday and bask in the love and appreciation and togetherness and understanding and BELONGING that makes me so happy to have been born into this bunch of people.

Take that, depression.