Wednesday, October 29

Art of Shopping...

...online shopping that is. I have learned that there is an art to buying things online and like learning any art, there are successes and failures.

My most recent failures have been with Amazon.com. Twice, now, I have attempted to buy electronic or computer related items and have been unsuccessful. Last summer, I tried to buy a Nikon Coolpix from Amazon and wound up purchasing it from one of their resellers, 17th Street Photo. When I tried to use the camera, it didn't work. I finally narrowed it down to problems with the the memory card reader and contacted Amazon, which redirected me to 17th Street who redirected me to Nikon who redirected me back to 17th Street. The camera had a defective card reader. Hello!!

They have a 7-day window for returns and they require email contact so that they can issue an email with a return authorization number. Unfortunately, I received the camera the same day that I had to travel out of state because of a family illness. The family member is elderly and does not have internet access, so I struggled to figure out how to comply with 17th Street. Finally, I got my husband to do the email/internet stuff, I took the camera with original packaging with me, he faxed me the email authorization which I enclosed in the camera package and I was able to get it mailed (at my expense, of course) on the last of the 7-day deadline. I did get a refund and passed on getting another camera.

Why didn't I learn from this experience? I'm a stupid human, so I tried to buy Windows XP via Amazon who redirected me to a reseller named Digital Media who processed my credit card but failed to deliver the product. So.... I contacted Amazon, was redirected to DM, who did not respond to phone or email contact which I documented and then recontacted Amazon who finally refunded my money within a reasonable time (apx. ten days). The whole mess took about a month and a half of follow up and sick realization that this reseller is probably out of business.

So.... I have learned that digital, computerized, expensive, complex, etc., items must be purchased in a brick and mortar place. I've had to return items to Best Buy and Circuit City, but at least they have live people and a location, not a black shopping hole somewhere in the Amazon universe. To be fair, Amazon does back up the transactions, so I did not lose money, but the time and expense of followup and return shipping is such a PITA, I won't do it again.

Meanwhile.... I have bought low dollar items from Amazon, no problem, Barnes and Noble and even Costco! I would also recommend, Cafe Press -especially my own site ( ^-^ ) Art in LA, Red Bubble, Deviant Art, Etsy and ImageKind for Tshirt, art cards, jewelry, etc., but, for clothes, electronics, and other such items it is best to be able to "try them on" or get the sizes and styles nailed down. Unless I'm very confident about the brand, size, etc., I won't order online.

Tuesday, October 28

Complexity


"Wherever an inferiority complex exists, there is a good reason for it." - Carl Jung Interview, 1943

“Hey! Check your email once in a while, why don’t ya. Call me.” The answering machine beeped as I scratched my elbow."

“Who the hell is that,” I wonder. I don’t recognize the voice. It is a man’s voice and it sounds like he’s using a cell phone in a wind storm. I continue scratching my elbow, hoping that the scaly patch under my fingernail crumbles and disappears. The lotion I got at the 99-Cent store is useless against the itchy desert of my skin these days. Not enough water. Maybe cutting back on the carbs is causing problems, too. My trickster mind always finds a way to justify my junk food addiction. It doesn’t care that my bulk detracts from any good looks I still possess. I should care more, erm… I want to care more. Okay, okay. I do care, but not right now.

"Well, well, well,” I read the latest email from Mr. “Call me.” It's from my ex husband. “He’s still charming as ___,” and my mind fills in the blank with “not." He never was charming. Talented, exciting, alien, dangerous are better words to describe him and maybe irresponsible, selfish, capricious, Gemini esque, enough said. Every woman has one in her past and I am grateful that my past is so long ago. He wants me to venture out, in the middle of the week, to some club on the far Westside, and hear his new band. I roll my eyes; continue scratching my elbow, and tune in to the sarcastic voice in my head for a while. I politely decline this invitation using a minimum of words and human warmth.

,,,

His rejection was the first hammer blow against my healthy ego and it took me a long time to excrete enough delusion and “self love” to cover over the inferiority gouges and self-doubt chips. He is the product of a very dysfunctional family, filled with money, divorces, backstabbing, overdoses, suicide and mistrust. He is the most together and emotionally healthy of them all and I am happy that he made it out alive, but I learned that pain begets pain. There is and was nothing personal about the pain he inflicted on me and his son. He does better than his father before him and I know his son will do better about inflicting pain than his father. So, why do I still feel inferior and damaged?

Time heals wounds. This is true. Many wounds that he inflicted are healed and because of modern psychiatry, my one true love, family, and friends, hardly any scars show. There is a big fissure somewhere around the heart muscle, though. The distance between the jagged edges is almost non existent now, but there is still distance, a distance filled with memories.

,,,
“What’s wrong with you tonight, my friend?” She asked.

"Nothing. Why?” I replied. I was shocked. Did I look worried? Why ask that question, I wondered.

“There’s something wrong. You look tired and … I don’t know, but there’s something wrong with you, tonight. Tell us.” She was aggressive and persistent. It was her house and everyone was looking at me, waiting for me to figure out what to say.

“I’m really surprised about your question. I don’t think anything’s wrong. Well, maybe I’m worried about the economy, but everyone is, right?” I was baffled that these friends detected the whiff of discontent and self-hatred that I keep sealed behind my protective coating of self delusion.

“How’s your son,” she persisted.

“How’s your mother-in-law?” another friend asked.

“Oh, my gawd,” I thought, “not the mother-in-law question, not tonight.” But, they wanted to penetrate the shield and my m-i-l is an endless source of inferiority and self-doubt, so I talked about her for a good ten minutes, relieving my spleen and giving something juicy to the inquisition. Well, that was what I thought, but not what they wanted.

“I’m glad you opened up, Kathy. Do you feel a little better, maybe?”

I assured my friends that I felt better. It is true. I feel as if the ton of bad feelings is a bit lighter and I am glad to have friends that are willing to sift through my gushing shit and turn some of it into nurturing compost. The rest of this smelly stuff is hanging out there in space, waiting to weasel itself between the jagged edges, making the heart fissure wider. I want to believe that the stuff moved on that night. I want to believe that human kindness and friendly concern smoothed some jagged edges. I want to believe that something as simple as a question and something as complex as a truthful response will bring healing.

I want to believe. Maybe that’s enough.

Friday, October 24

Swirls of Light and Form


"He looked at his own Soul with a Telescope. What seemed all irregular, he saw and shewed to be beautiful Constellations; and he added to the Consciousness hidden worlds within worlds.
- S T Coleridge, Notebooks


Well... I made a video, a slideshow, really and posted it on YouTube. It features my fractal artworks and is a first attempt. Naturally, I'm not satisfied with it and I realize it needs a lot of work. I can't say I enjoyed using the Windows Movie Maker but learning anything new is hard even with such a simple program. By making this video, I certainly appreciate the creations of others so much more and am encouraged to learn more about this media. Anyway, here's the first step toward a new digital direction.

Friday, October 17

Aftermath

One of my many guilty pleasures is watching "House Hunters" on cable's HGTV channel. Up until a year ago, this subject was pretty non-partisan, non-political, non-controversial and I enjoyed learning about housing prices and expectations in other parts of the nation. My husband and I have worked methodically to get those granite counter tops, hard wood floors, extra bath, etc., so that we'd get the maximum profit from our comfy retirement nest egg. Well.... it looks like we'll enjoy these tried and true sales amenities for a few years longer now, and we'll postpone retirement for a few more years, if at all. We're just grateful that one of us has a decent job and we can pay bills.

The young couple on today's episode was so unbelievably picky. Wrong wall colors, small bath, too close to the railway, ad naseum. The many choices they examined were not perfect, but their expectations were too high for anything other than the Taj Mahal. I can see that the housing meltdown is spawning a buyers market of unprecedented ugliness. After pondering my new reactions to HGTV, I decided to tune out all "financial crisis" discussions for a while. That resolution lasted until the Charlie Rose show. I listened to Shelia Bair of the FDIC explain the mechanics of this economic crisis and the huge part housing debt plays in our downfall. I am not surprised about the downfall, itself, just the timing. I thought we had more time to cash out before this crash, but now we're stuck in the middle and like millions tonight, I pray we will ride it out in one piece.

I recall a surreal moment in 2002, when the "Internet bubble" burst and every newspaper discussed job losses and the post 9/11 economic downturn. I was with my Dad, discussing my recent layoff from a telecom industry giant and the temporary employment job market. We were in a mall having a bite to eat after seeing a movie. It was mid week and the mall was busy. It was obvious that lots of people were spending money and were not working. We both were puzzled about this illogical phenomena.

"They're living off the refi's on their houses, I bet," said Dad. "We'll see a lot of foreclosures in a few years at the rate these people are spending."

Many citizens, jobless but with homes, did not drastically alter lifestyles (i.e., join the ranks of the poor) but racked up refi and credit card debt to pay bills, take vacations, buy cars, ipods, big screen tvs, etc. It's been in the news for years. Our republican leaders ignored the warnings, and urged us to party like it's 1999 - go, spend, support the economy by buying things was the message and it worked great for years. In fact that's what the republicans did by deficit spending us into the poor house. We are witnessing the aftermath of unregulated spend-and-go vs. pay-as-you-go political and financial policies. Consequently, middle classers like me are shocked into cutting back, living with less, lowering expectations and exploring ways in which to survive an alien world without money. I am old enough to recall the bleakness of the 70s recession and how living in the middle of Kansas on a commune sounded like heaven at that time. Those were communal, pull together times and despite the deprivation and grimness, light shone at the end of the tunnel. Now, it's every republican for himself and let's demonize the poor while branding anyone who suggests "spreading the wealth" as terrorist traitors to the corporate nation.

Maybe I'm old and maybe I cling to the unfashionable notion expressed and embodied in Barak Obama's presidential speeches that we all are "our brothers' keepers." Even after years of working with young Reaganite "trickle downers" who scoff at social security programs, safety nets, the notion of the working poor, and only worry about their stock portfolios and gun collections, I care that they are wiped out. Many of them have families with oldsters like me willing to band together and spread whatever wealth is left to keep afloat. Maybe this economic meltdown will illustrate how anyone is vulnerable to the ravages of poverty, and generate some compassion in a desert of selfishness.

I like what author Jim Washburn says in his article, "It's Time to have the Talk." We can be like spoiled, clueless homebuyers when it comes to picking a president, and complain about the wall color and the street noise while our options dwindle into dust. Or, vote for a workable solution: tax cuts for the little guy, tax increases for the big guys, affordable health insurance to support citizens and businesses, a purpose driven political agenda and a desire to stop the partisan self destructiveness. It makes sense to have a community activist take charge because "community" is what's been missing in America for a very long time.

May all beings survive and thrive during this tough economy.

Monday, October 6

Making Strides...


Today, two special people I know left the planet. Sandy, a hard working, giving, fun loving mother, aunt and surrogate mother when needed, died of lung cancer. She leaves behind so much love and takes love with her on her next stop in her spiritual journey. Jessica, her niece and my friend, will need support and understanding through these dark days. Bless them both.

A friend's mother passed away, also. She was in her 90s and led a good and satisfying life. Her daughters and son will miss her humor, her nurturing, and her calm, acceptance of life on life's terms. Mary will need lots of love and support. Losing a beloved mother is almost unbearable.

I am saddened for myself when any good person leaves us, but especially sad when that person is fairly young, vibrant and struck down by cancer. There are only a few things in life that I hate and cancer is at the top of that short list. Bless all of those women who have successfully and unsuccessfully fought to overcome breast cancer. So much progress has been made recently because of the unravelling of the human genome and more progress is coming.

I am relieved and happy that my mammogram last month was good and most of my other health tests were good also. I appreciate my grandmother's insights, that "if you have your health, you have everything." No arguments here!!

May all beings know health, love and peace.