Author Archives: ccorleyjd365

The House That Jack Built

As I wait for the single-serve coffee to brew in the black mug on the hotel dresser, I reflect on how my life has become a nursery rhyme.

This is the room that i rented because I couldn’t ride transit to the station and fly home; this is the suitcase that I had to buy because I had to bring a computer because the cord could not be located so I could use the laptop at home.

Not a perfect analogy but eventually you get to the mellow glass of Old Vine Zin  that I drank; and the slice of flourless chocolate cake that I ate when I found myself alone in the hotel room that I had to rent. . .And these are the twitchy legs that kept me awake in the hotel room that I had to rent. . .

I enjoyed the wine, and the cake; but a present and aware companion might have reminded me of what white sugar does to a damaged CNS system.  He or she might have given voice to my neurologist’s admonishments.  He says, If white sugar were discovered today, it would be a controlled substance.  No cautionary voice sounded from across the table.  The waiter brought both delightful indulgences, unaware that I’d already blown the budget, oblivious to the folly, thinking only of his tip.

He penned at the bottom of the ticket:  “20% =. . .”  He’d botched my order and resisted re-doing the plate.  He never offered to re-fill my coffee.  He stood ten feet away and moaned to a co-worker about having to work the weekend.  I gave him 15% and felt generous.

I’m not complaining about my restless night or the dreams which flooded my brain.  I alone, with full knowledge of its potential impact, ordered my dinner.  With further awareness, I chose to binge-watch Youtube videos of my favorite poignant songs.  Now the traffic tells me that the hour of departure approaches.  Breakfast starts at six.  I’ll board a shuttle at 7:30.  By eleven, I will be homeward bound.  i have not yet decided how I feel about this trip.  Time will tell.

It’s the nineteenth day of the forty-ninth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

 

Penny-wise and Pound-foolish

To save $200, I booked this flight to Missouri by way of SFO rather than Oakland or Sacramento.  Either of those would have been closer to the California Delta Loop on which I live.  But. . . the flight itself, booked two months ago, would have cost $200 more out of Oakland, and about $250 more from Sacramento.

I felt so confident in my decision.  My purpose in travel is to make two appearances as Guardian Ad Litem, and I can’t ask for reimbursement for the expenses of this trip.  I figured that I’d rise early, park at the BART station, and commute to the airport.

Then I took the BART while my son was visiting and started getting nervous.  Could I really get to SFO with a small carry-on bag and my pocketbook, down the escalator, through the train doors, the hour to the airport, up the escalator, and over whatever concourse I would have to traverse at that end?  And could I really leave my car for five days in the handicapped space at the Pittsburgh BART?  I had smugly covered the need for a laptop by leaving one in Kansas City, but did I know where the power cord was?  I did not.   Confident that the person at whose home I had left everything could find it, at least that part could be deftly  addressed, leaving me a bit lighter for not having to lug the computer.

Many machinations later, consultation with a friend in Oakland, and a lot of heartache, here’s where we stand:

Cord located in KC? No.  Laptop has to be toted to Missouri.

Parking possible long-term at the BART station?  Deemed not safe.

Corinne capable of BARTing alone for the first time all the way to SFO?  Uh, no.  Ill-advised, I’m told.  Let’s do a few more rounds with a companion, I’m cautioned.

So. . .

Hotel room at SFO:  $110.

Long-term parking at said hotel for five days: $60.

Rolling bag to tote a few personal items and laptop, since computer bag doesn’t roll and rolling suitcases are, you guessed it, in Kansas City having not made the cut in the last minute packing: $40.

Dinner at hotel in SF:  As yet to be determined, let’s estimate $20.

Total: $230.

Annnnnnddd, subtracting that from the savings —- I’m thirty bucks in the hole, though truth be told, I’d had to have paid to park at Oakland or Sacramento, so I can probably call it a wash.

Along the way, the navigator got me lost and I saw an extra forty miles of California scenery, which I must admit to having enjoyed immensely.  Called the Green belt, my lost-as-heck route took me past miles of gentle hills with glorious windmills, just the type of landscape that I most enjoy seeing when I’m lost, and somewhat dismayed, and needing to find a soft place for my emotions to land.

It’s the eighteenth day of the forty-ninth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Greetings to you all from the BW Grosvenor SFO hotel, where it’s tea time.

Life continues.

Long day’s journey

I drove into Lodi yesterday with the thought of having a decent meal cooked by someone else and perhaps visiting the shop which installed my new onboard navigtiaon system to find out why the radio won’t get KQED.  I ended up sick in a Burger King bathroom from Indian food eaten in a restaurant called “Friends”, the emptiness of which should have alerted me.  I ignored the sign admonishing me for using the BK restroom without being a customer.  When I had composed myself, I went into the cool air of a California winter’s afternoon wishing that I had just stayed home.

At the CVS, I bought an over-the-counter stomach pill and a new collapsible cane.  I don’t use a walking stick but I’m getting ready to travel. I have learned that airlines and TSA agents do not believe in disabilities which don’t require hardscape.  I tested a few and picked one which seemed sturdy. The price gave me brief pause:  twenty-three dollars.  My last adjustable cane came from Amazon, cost fifteen bucks but it broke after a few uses. Heavy sigh.  I guess you do, after all, get that for which you pay, however begrudgingly you do so.

I allowed myself a resigned shrug, to the confusion of the sales clerk who rang my purchases while casting a cautious eye in my direction.  I tried to make conversation but he didn’t buy my sudden appearance of normalcy.

I skipped the visit to the car audio installation place.  I didn’t feel well enough to calmly deal with the problem.  Additionally, it’s in a part of town where no one speaks much English.  I’m using Duo-Lingo to pull my ancient Spanish from the depths of my subconscious, but until I get closer to capable, I don’t want to have to ask directions and upset any little old ladies in flowered dresses or gum-cracking teens carrying cell phones bigger than my pocketbook.  I saw a few of each over there on my first visit.  Two boys younger than my son but old enough to be out alone stood near me while I waited for my car.  They smiled, and gave me a little wave to show that they conceded my presence and had no ill intentions toward me.  But we could not converse.  We did not speak each other’s language in more ways than one.

The sun eased itself down the western horizon as I left Lodi.  I had not accomplished anything other than taking a return to UPS and finding a scarf to use as a window-covering on my front door.  But a young man had carried my package into the UPS store.  He grinned at me.  He seemed to be thankful for the chance to be of service.  Perhaps that counts for something, maybe even enough to make my long day’s journey worthwhile.

It’s the seventeenth day of the forty-ninth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

 

 

Fog

I drove to Berkeley yesterday, leaving the Delta as winding tendrils of fog caressed my car.  The mist followed me over the 160 bridge and into East Bay, up the  mountain til finally, I broke free.  Standing near a log splattered with the bright boast of visitors’ names, I contemplated the city and the wide expanse of water.  The astonishing sight lay below me, quiet, comfortable with its simmering, smoldering magnificence.

Today I feel another fog lifting. My head clears, here on the quiet second floor of my tiny house.  The day droned into evening.  I got so little done today that I might as well have been asleep.  But somehow, an accomplished air settles in my heart.  Maybe it’s the nothingness I needed, the long slow reach of a day spent reading a junk novel and eating chocolate-covered raisins, toast, and scrambled eggs, washed down with clear cold water.

I did spend a glorious couple of hours ordering Christmas presents for the Saturday exchange in Kansas City.  I knew what I wanted.  I clicked through sample after sample, checking delivery dates, contemplating colors, reflecting on each of the fourteen or fifteen people on my list. I admit that I’m never happier than when I’m striving to please someone else.   If I only had ten dollars, I’d spend eight of it on gifts.

Then I would sit on my stoop smiling into the morning fog, my coffee at hand.

It’s evening on the fifteenth day of the forty-ninth month of My Year without Complaining.  Greetings from the Delta, my friends.  Life continues.

 

 

My Motivation

Complaint-free living begins at home.  I told myself this as I struggled to overcome a physical obstacle this morning.  No, I won’t describe it, because if I do, half of my friends will panic because they’ll fear that I am going to die out in the wilds of NORCAL alone.  The other half will ascribe superior endurance to this old Missouri gal, and tell me that they’ve never suffered as much as they think I do. Both thoughts derail this blog into some arena of personal accolade which I kindly reject.

So, this morning:

As I pushed myself to overcome the immediate challenge, I gave audible voice to my anger.  I’m not sure to whom I spoke.  I addressed my comments to a divine deity, protesting the burden.  I do not deserve this, I cried.  Then I found myself blaspheming, though exactly whom or what force I cannot (or will not) acknowledge.  Finally, I powered through the moment.  I did not seek out the small bathroom mirror but if I had, I feel certain that my eyes would have held a victorious glint.

Years ago, I participated in a “Walk for Development”, a walk hosted by Young World Development, a youth affiliate of the American Freedom From Hunger Foundation.  At fifteen, I had spent my entire young life squirming to cram my square peg essence into a round peg world.  That morning, I stood amidst the hundreds of walkers, wearing my Walk t-shirt under my brother’s army jacket.  I saw a St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter raise a camera, and pulled my jacket open so that the YWD emblem would show.  Sure enough, he snapped the shot and I appeared, unnamed, as part of the composite story.  I did not want to be identified. I just wanted to be one of the nameless participants in the effort to raise money for struggling people in the Missouri Bootheel and overseas, in developing nations devastated by famine, war, and disease.  I got my wish.  In that photo, I looked exactly like all of the other participants.

I’ve been trying all my life to fit into this world.  I just want to blend into the fabric of humanity.  My disability, my nature, my values, my convictions — these often stand between me and the rest of society.  This morning, as I gave voice to my frustration, as I complained about how difficult physical effort always has been and always will be, I remembered how eagerly I set out in life so many years ago.  I vividly recalled my fifteen-year-old self.  I could not participate as a Walker that day, but I staffed the check-in table; handed out water, maps, and bandages; and otherwise assisted in the mechanics of the effort.  I belonged there.  I found acceptance.  That’s all I have ever wanted.

My disability often prevents meaningful participation in valuable projects.  It also creates a barrier between myself and others, people who look sideways at me, wondering if I’m “normal”.   That is one area of complaint I have not been able to abandon.   I keep trying.  I really do.  I march forward.  I don’t ask anyone to walk with me.  This journey might be for my steps alone.

It’s the fifteenth day of the forty-ninth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

 

 

Here and back again; or “Saturday in the Delta with Corinne”

I got out of the house by 9:00 a.m. and made my way to Fairfield to attend my first meeting of the Writer’s Resource Center.  I’ve never belonged to a writer’s group so I had no idea what to expect, but I did think there would be coffee.  There’s coffee at an AA meeting, isn’t there?  Writing is at least as addictive.  Alas, none.

After I got over that shock, I started introducing myself.  I met  poets, fiction writers, and even a publisher.  I studied people’s faces as they read their responses to the monthly writing prompt.  I drank a bottle of water, hallucinating the fragrance of freshly ground beans.

I headed back to Rio Vista at noon, getting slightly lost looking for gas, a restroom, and lunch.  I ended my journey at Lucy’s Cafe, with a book and a gnawing hunger for garlic fries.

Four hours later, I’m squirming on my desk chair with a sore bum from my first official fall in Angel’s Haven.  I knew better than to rise early and move through a day of many changes.  I wore myself out traveling here and back again, down Highway 12 as the windmills rose in the mist, cutting through the fog like  a knife in the bowl of soft butter on my counter.

Another load has cycled through its paces in the washer/dryer combo.  I’m almost finished with all the accumulated laundry.  I’ll deploy my new drying rack for the tights. I shrank a pair earlier Ihis week.  Doing laundry in a tiny house involves a learning curve.

I haven’t taken my medicine for two days due to a rocky stomach.  I’m not sure what I ate that disagreed with me but the mound of fries from Lucy’s set just fine.  Everything’s groovy; it’s peachy-keen and Jim-Dandy.   It’s a Saturday in the Delta and I have no complaints.

It’s the thirteenth day of the forty-ninth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

 

Visit the Website of Rupi Kaur to read more of her poetry. 

In Which I Confess My Sins

How many frustrating encounters with professionals and corporations does it take to make a person devoted to living joyfully lose her cool?(footnote)

Starting in September 2017:

  1. A realtor who (it seems, as far as we can discern) uses my money to pay people who did not properly execute the work for which he paid them;
  2. Another realtor who (by all appearances and the determination of myself and my attorney, on facts as we were able to ascertain them) finds out about a fraudulent cloud on my house’s title three weeks before she discloses it to me, and then disclaims responsibility for assisting with it (and when I cry in exhaustion, fatigue and frustration, tells me I’m ‘not being nice’);
  3. The title company employee who (it seems) found the fraudulent cloud, did not timely advise me of it, and then disclaimed her responsibility in the matter;
  4. The bosses of the said realtor and said title company employee, who sighed their sorrow over their employees’ apparent failures but disavowed the ability to help;
  5. A car salesman who “mistakenly describes” a car’s features;
  6. A car salesman’s supervisor who botches the attempt to rectify the features about which his employee “mistakenly spoke”;
  7. An installer who incorrectly installs the equipment for which he was paid (by the car salesman’s supervisor, to rectify the car salesman’s “mistakes”);
  8. A cable/internet provider who promises service and sends the wrong technician who badmouths his co-workers and stomps off in a huff as though it’s the customer’s fault he’s been sent in error; and
  9. Ten call-center employees of said cable/internet provider, two online-chat-agents of said provider, three social media coordinators of said provider, and a half-dozen computer-generated voice-prompted call systems of said provide.

January 2018 —

I finally snapped and yelled at the very last human being at said cable/internet provider, who STILL did not do anything, then I got online and cancelled the cable/internet order in firmly typed all caps.   I do not think the person on the other end could possibly have misunderstood my frustration.  My rhetoric included no expletives but certainly got the point across.

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

My name is Corinne, and I’m a recovering complainer.  I last complained four hours ago.

Hi, Corinne.

 

 

(footnote) All circumstances described in this entry are my opinion of what happened.  Names are withheld to protect both innocent and guilty, and to prevent anyone drawing any conclusion as to which is which.  Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion about events.  These opinions are mine.  No defamation is meant. I am sure all these people believe themselves to be righteous and let them, I say.  Let them feel as they wish.

Life’s little ironies, technology division

When I moved to Park Delta Bay, I assessed the reasonableness of its lot fee based upon available resources, which included  free wi-fi.  Of course, wind, birds, and the distance of my lot from the source of said wi-fi all make use of it either impossible or impractical.  Simply put, it does not work from Angel’s Haven.

I’m not complaining.  I’ve tried it from near the source with success, so I understand this glitch arises from the imperfections of technology.  That said:  I work from home. I need internet.

The office advised me that two companies service residents in our park.  One provides internet only for about $105.00 per month.  Ouch.  The other provides television and internet, high-speed and wi-fi included, for $70.00 per month (if you register for paperless and auto-pay, which gives a discount).

But there’s a catch.

For the install, you must have a television.

Forehead slapping moment for the lady who gave away not one but TWO televisions when she went tiny!!!!

I didn’t fret.  I got on Amazon Prime and ordered the smallest television imaginable.  Also seventy-bucks, as it happens.  It arrived yesterday to the enormous amusement of the park manager, who lifted it into my car right after she handed me the box holding my new porch mat.  The mat outweighed the television by a lot, even though  the television package also included a metal bracket for wall-mounting,.  When I got everything open, I sat at my tiny house table in my tiny house chair and had a good, big laugh at my tiny house television, which fits the bill just fine.  The installer can test his equipment and then, if I like, I can put the darn thing in a storage drawer since I have absolutely no desire to watch television.  Tiny or otherwise.

The irony and its enormous hilarious impact on my mood yesterday will stay with me for a very long time.  Meanwhile, the sun shines, the rain has stopped, and my mood lifts despite any missteps in getting Angel’s Haven perfectly situated.  I have many concerns about the world and how it operates, but today, I have no complaints.

It’s the eleventh day of the forty-ninth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Delta dusk

Geese call to each other across the swollen river.  I stand on its banks peering through my cell phone’s view finder,   It seems inadequate to capture the elegance of the river’s sweeping curve.  Dusk descends on the California Delta.

A car passes.  I’ve noticed that people do not raise their hands from the steering wheel as I learned to do in another life-time, north of the Louisiana delta in Arkansas.  I suppose they have their own signal of friendliness but I haven’t caught on to it yet.

I’ve been awake for more than fourteen hours.  I spent the first four or five fretting over other people’s failures, a refreshing change for me.  I have managed to cobble enough benefit from various folks’ disappointing performances at this critical stage of my life to overlook their remissions.  I have not spoken much of the professionals  who did not honor my trust, I dance around the gradations of their treachery.  I do not seek to fall into complaint but neither does it strike me as prudent to leave them free to prey on others however carelessly.  My quandary accounts for the sleepless night.

The slight chill in the air reminds me that rain has fallen here for several days running.  I pull my jacket closed and lean against the car.  A great flock of crows passes overhead.  I close my eyes.  Their song resonates on the silent water.   The river has her own life but I miss the comforting voice of my beloved sea.  I pull a long draw of air into my lungs.  It lacks the tang of the ocean but still, it refreshes me.  I face west and watch the falling light as it dances over the far line of trees.  When I have had my fill, I get back into the car and drive the rest of the way to Delta Bay.

It’s evening on the tenth day of the forty-ninth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Challenges

I drove to Lodi in a heavy mist that turned into rain before I hit highway 12.  I slogged forward, and found myself on the strange side of town in front of a shop where work would be done to repair something I bought which does not function as promised.

Yes, that sentence contains no identifying information from which anyone not already educated could infer the who, the what, or the why.  Because (gesturing) well, this.

I’m trying to wrap my head around some gross disappointments lately.  Professionals retained who fail in their jobs; purchases made of items which don’t conform to advertisement.  I want to rail and bash and shout and complain.  Not to obtain redress:  But to protect the next unwary, trusting soul.

The next sixty-two-year-old divorced alone woman who thinks thirty years’ acquaintance qualifies her to pick a professional.

The next consumer who sits in front of a young man with a winsome smile and a photo of his child on a clean desk.

The next high school drop-out, maybe, with a hundred bucks and a need for a new phone, who walks into a store and encounters an unscrupulous clerk.  No, that didn’t happen to me — but it happens to many people.  Their phone breaks, and they need it to get the calls for jobs, or the late-night frantic entreaty from a teen-aged child.  They dash to the wireless storefront at the mall, thinking to buy the cheapest available model.  An hour later, over-borne by the enthusiasm of someone working on commission, they can’t buy food or bus fare because they’ve spent their last dollars on a replacement that they’ve been told will save their lives.

In my case, I’m more than a college graduate.  And still, I get side-swiped by people who take my money and don’t do their jobs.  I don’t want to just moan, nor do I want to badmouth them.  But the last two months have sent numerous such people my way.  They’ve promised me the moon and then thrown a black-out curtain over my eyes and gas-lighted their way out the door while I struggled with the heavy fabric.

I’ll never regain the money they cost me, nor the time, nor the anguish.  Complaining won’t help.  I don’t want payback.

But I want the universe to protect others from these unscrupulous souls who hide their bloodthirsty hearts behind sweet smiles.

So what do I do?  I’m thinking, people; and while I think, I’m mustering my heart of gold and my own brand of universal kindness, and watching for chances to help anyone who needs the gift of my consideration.  I won’t stoop as low as the people who’ve cheated me.  I’ll go high; and I’ll watch for the universe to set things straight or provide me with a chance to protect the next person from being victimized.

I’m counting my blessings in Delta Bay.   I know that life will send many more good people to offset those who took advantage of me, so I’ll smile, and I’ll laugh, and I’ll persist in my #journeytojoy.

It’s the ninth day of the forty–ninth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.