I need to let go of lost socks

I was folding the laundry the other day and I tossed a few uncoupled socks into my lost sock basket.  Then, I paused to  stare long and hard at the basket that had been slowly accumulating lonely socks for years.  Various ones had begun their desperate climb for freedom, standing on the toes of the fallen and beginning their accidental accent over the lip of the basket.  Their tragic limbo beckoned me to begin the arduous task of trying to find their lost mates.

Twenty minutes later I had created two piles:  a small one where rediscovered twins embraced in mangled balls and a much larger one that held a jumble of sizes, colors and fabrics.   I kneeled in front of my bed to behold my past.  There were my older son’s black & white, black & grey, striped, and white socks that had anti-slip lettering embossed with T4-T5 and which were now being used by his younger sister.  A few of his present day socks presented the same sad engendered palette of black but with daring blues and reds on the heels and toes.  There were her socklets with ice cream cones, flowers, decorative ankle trim in hues of lavender, green, pink and orange.  I was baffled how a multitude of highly eye catching socks could go missing.  Did our dog have a penchant for purple? My husband’s single sports socks were a timeline of his changing tastes: black calf socks had given way to black ankle socks and finally to black below-shoe-rim socks,  a shortening struggle to avoid the fate of being yet another old man wearing calf socks with shorts.  A few of my socks were thrown into the mix but not many:  I tended towards more color and patterns and these were always sold in singles such that upon discovery of a hole I often chucked the pair.  I also habitually wore my husband’s black socks since my ‘nice’ socks never lasted long.  His rapidly changing taste in style might have been a subversive attempt at dissuading my borrowing.

There the pile sat and taunted me with an overwhelming question:  were these single socks a metaphor for all the leftover items in my past that I had failed to discard?  Was I hoping I would find the elusive missing part to the whole; would I find resolution to relationships and events that had ended in whimper? These thoughts flowed over my consciousness on a particularly grey and snowy day (if it had been sunny and warm, I would not be writing this blog.  I would have ignored the sock basket  and gone for a walk instead).

Socks are a funny covering for our bodies.  It absorbs our foot sweat and odor and is an intimate olfactory trace of our existence.  This might explain why our dog rifles through the laundry looking for socks to parade around the house.  She is either getting sensory  comfort from her pack’s smells or she is thumbing her nose at our authority by reminding us we shit, eat and smell just like her.

Unlike underwear, we freely flash an odd assortment of patterns and colors on our ankles and for reasons I have yet to fathom, they appear to be an acceptable flamboyance on buttoned down men.  Whenever I have sat through a terribly long and boring meeting, my gaze  inevitably wandered to the foot and sock wear of the attendees, trying to ascertain some hidden character traits I may have overlooked, followed by a skittish attempt to hide my own socks, which were often black and borrowed from my husband.  Based on my own boring proclivities and an unimpressive collection of practical cotton underwear, I assumed anyone with fabulously colorful socks must harbor kinky tendencies – at least that is what I imagined to get me through those terribly long and boring meetings.

Imagining the character and history of people and their socks probably led to my soul searching on that fateful laundry day.  Letting go of socks with holes is easy:  it has obviously come to its demise through ample contact, you may have even let it go on  a bit too long because the hole wasn’t too big and wasn’t too worrisome, and one day you realize some part of you is being strangled or exposed by the irregularity and raggedness of the hole.  I think the metaphor is self-explanatory: abusive or annoying people that are black holes, sucking the light from our lives while emitting harmful radiation until they themselves evaporate and disappear.

Missing socks are another matter.  They are the epitome of unfinished business.  Should I wait for their return?  Should I try to improve their functionality by creating a mismatched pair?  Will people judge me because I am wearing one striped sock and one polka-dot sock?  Or does the idiosyncrasy of the mismatch prove charming?  There are no easy answers to the dilemma but I think for each one of us, the answer is in the basket.  On a quiet laundry day, lay out those burdensome socks on your bed and look, I mean really look at the possibilities and the dead-ends.  Don’t be afraid to throw away those dusty socks that have no wearability – neon yellow was just a passing fancy but a bold move nonetheless, the Eiffel Tower motif was super cool in the gift shop but this year we are traveling to new sights unseen,  gray is just so….gray and can’t be mismatched successfully with any of my husband’s black socks.  Today is the day of reckoning and once the pile has been cleared in fitful starts and stops of anxiety and pondering, wander to the garbage bin and finish the job.  Then, take your wonderful self and go shopping for a new pair of socks.  Nothing is more cathartic than starting fresh.

 

 

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Please Leave Me Alone Unicef

How do I write this blog without coming off as a complete jerk?  This is basically a rant about donor fatigue.  I hadn’t realized June was hit-up-everyone-on-earth month for starving children, uneducated children, children needing Bible studies, mother’s against drunk drivers, mother’s against pedophiles, mother’s against pedophilic drunk drivers, people with cancer, people with MS, people with diabetes, 15 people with an incredibly rare disorder that no one can pronounce,  a foundation that gives free books to poor people, a foundation that gives free shelter to poor people, a foundation that gives free food to poor people, a foundation that gives free manicures and pedicures to poor people.  This month I’ve had four fundraising drives come to my door, three robocalls, not to mention the cashier at the Safeway, the Co-op and Old Navy that asked in front of the attentive ears of people lined up behind me if I wanted to donate.  I felt like an asshole every time I said no.   At this point, I’ve begrudgingly accepted my fate as the lady-who-won’t-donate-to-save-poor-orphans-in-a-country-no-one-has-heard-of-until-it-hit-the-news-last-month.

I do donate.  Not the hearty 10% of our income stipulated by tithe.  We opted to insert money into the kids’ RESP (registered education savings plan) because we don’t want our kids to be a charity case when a Bachelor’s degree costs $1,000,000 in the future.  Also, I bought a really comfy swinging basket chair that someone in India weaved together.  We send a few thousand a year to whatever charity tugs our heart strings or to the fundraising page of one of our family, friends or coworkers that could totally afford to donate their fundraising goal but are blackmailing themselves into running, walking or biking to their ideal weight.   I, infrequently volunteer in my community or for an organization whenever I am called to do so but I volunteer full time raising my children.  Yes, I volunteer.  No one is forced into being a parent – just ask deadbeat moms and dads.  My priorities don’t play well on social media.  LinkedIn tells me future employers more readily hire people who list their volunteerism or ’causes.’  Polishing your brand entails a sheen of non-profit or at least a few stretched contributions in that direction.  Hell, I can play that game too.  I volunteered at Habitat for Humanity for one whole day painting a play house they were auctioning off back in 2002.  I guess that means I now volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.  Who’s going to check attendance?

I’m tired of the barrage.  I can’t approach a street corner without some idealistic twenty year old giving me their most toothy grin and expounding on the virtues of goats or water wells or microloans in third world countries.  I can’t go to the grocery store without the cashier plugging for the corporation’s charity of the month.  Even purchasing a $20 soccer ball I am asked by the cashier to fund youth sports for the disadvantaged. Do I give 10% of my purchase price?  20%?  That would be  a lame $4.  Or do I give them $20 because that seems like a half decent donation amount.  That means my soccer ball just cost me $40.  If I keep this up, I won’t be able to afford the new swimsuit I so desperately need.  Should I forget swimming altogether (cause saggy swimsuits with no elastic support are so not cool – you know who you are) so I can give some poor disadvantaged youth the $80 instead?  I’ll get fat and unhealthy but at least I’ll have given some kid the chance to run around in a shiny new jersey instead of running around in a cotton shirt.   Hell, I can’t even get drunk anymore without a guilt trip.  All the outings with friends seem to involve charity balls or a fundraising event that someone scored free tickets.  No one scores free tickets to a fundraiser.  They are handed out like candy and you arrive to not dinner but hors d’oeuvres that run out in the first ten minutes and then you’re paying $15 for a glass of boxed red.  They get everyone liquored up on empty stomachs and suddenly you’re bidding $500 on a Fitbit.  The next morning you feel dirty and used except you didn’t get laid just f**ked.

Having school age children opens up a whole universe of fundraising activities.  They send leaflet after leaflet asking to please sign up for  meat orders, chocolate orders, Christmas plant orders, spring plant orders, coupon books (which I forget to use), book orders, frozen cookie dough orders and any other business scheme that relies entirely on school fundraisers to turn a profit.  I would happily write the school a check that would be equitable to all the money I spend on fundraisers our family is socially pressured to commit.  We’d unfortunately cut out the middle man economy which I suspect employs thousands of people.  When I lost my job and I was attending career transition meetings with similarly forlorn people, the coaches kept telling us uplifting stories of people who had found their true calling in the non profit sector.  I kept thinking it was strange there was a large employment sector for non-profits.  I’m still trying to find a job in the pillage-the-earth for-profit oil and gas industry so I guess I’m the fool.

Now what?  Well, if you’d kindly donate to my blog I can sustain myself on Oreo cookies and Cheetos so I can continue to write these pithy and astute essays.  You can feel oh so good knowing you helped support a starving writer or at least a writer starving for unhealthy snacks.  Or, I can just forego the snacks.  It’s up to you.

 

 

 

 

We Got A Puppy

I haven’t had the wherewithal to publish anything in a long time.  I got depressed.  And sick with some horrible flu virus that made me understand how the flu could possibly kill someone.   Then there were the deaths in the family.   First my mother-in-law and then my step-dad.  Oh yeah, and my father had a couple of convalesces at our home after hernia and hip surgeries.  I basically hit a wall and started crying – a lot.  Then I lost my appetite, whether from the flu or from depression I’ll never know but I got locked into a horrible spiral so that I lost 20lb (best diet ever!) and could barely ingest the same amounts of food as my 3 year old.  I bought powders and canned drinks they give old people to gain weight.  I ate a lot of ice cream.  Like I mentioned above, best diet ever.  After my step-dad’s funeral I started shaking.  I thought:  Oh fuck,  I got bit by a tick and now I’ve caught Lyme Disease (sidebar: Lyme Disease creates neurological damage and is often misdiagnosed as MS).  Except, the shaking was psychosomatic because I’d shake when I was agitated and never when I was seated or resting.  Skip forward to the dreadful month of February and the doctor puts me on anti-anxiety pills.  I thought, “Great, a pill that fixes everything!  Sign me up.”  Except, it didn’t.  I still needed to go to a counselor and realize that my family was, is and will always be neurotic, eccentric and draining.

Fast forward to April.  My kids and husband had been cooped up with me for a very dark winter and I decided my priority was to create happiness for myself, my kids and my husband.  We began going for hikes again and going to the swimming pool.  We spent a weekend at a fancy hotel in the same city we live in and ordered room service and luxuriated in the hotel’s marble pool.  We started remembering what it was like to be happy and then we bought a puppy- a teeny, tiny puppy that will grow into a small dog.  It’s a ShitsPooPoo – a Shitzu, Pomeranian, Poodle cross and her name is Bella.  My husband and I had been mulling it over for a couple of years while we recovered from euthanizing our Chocolate Lab in 2014.  He had grown old, something for which I wasn’t familiar because of premature deaths of all my childhood dogs and cats.  Reasons for early death of above mentioned dogs and cats:  falling from a tree during winter (cat), getting run over (dog), accidentally being stepped on and then dying from a broken back (cat), getting run over again (dog #2), and my most loved pet, my dog Chico, being passed on to another family because we were moving households every year.  Having a dog survive to old age was a sign I had graduated from the family dysfunction of shoddy husbandry and a disruptive home but it was bittersweet.  The old boy suffered from advanced arthritis  that received little respite from pain medication and in his final year he couldn’t bear to suffer the agony of getting up to plod down four steps and squat to take a shit.  He’d sprawl on the kitchen floor and a few seconds later a couple of warm logs would roll from under his raised tail.  He’d give us a look so sorrowful and resigned that we gave up scolding him and began the reluctant conversations of when it was finally “time.”

Having a puppy is about joy; having a puppy is about pee everywhere in your home.  I’m going to give you some good advice right now:  never ever buy pee pads.  They have become ubiquitous in the last 10 years and they are totally useless because you are teaching your dog it’s okay to pee inside.  If you have a yard, let your new bundle of joy spend lots and lots of time in it so the outside becomes a natural part of their habitat and by extension, their toilet.  They’ll soon realize the green carpet outside doesn’t elicit the same groans of agony or yelling the (formerly) white carpet inside does.  If you live in an apartment: what the hell were you thinking?  Go buy yourself a house.  Better yet, a country acreage.

Back to joy: puppies have three basic tenets and they are eating, sleeping and playing.  They will do all three with you if you let them and let’s be honest, you will.  A bit of scrambled egg at breakfast never hurt anyone now did it?  The crate seems comfortable but your bed is soooooo much better.   Besides, it’s too cold in the winter to sleep on the floor even if it’s on top of a $100 feather dog bed from a boutique pet store.   And you’ll realize throwing things over and over and over and over and over again can be fun!  Especially the part where you have to play capture the ball or rope toy between every single toss.  It never gets old.  Really.  I promise.

When you bring a new creature into your home the best parts are the unexpected moments, those times you could never have imagined in your adorable baby animal fairy tales you were playing across your mind while you were psyching yourself up to make the purchase.  It’s only been two months so far but the two most memorable things about Bella are 1) when holding her she likes to lean her head back over your shoulder and nuzzle into your neck and 2) when you are pooping on the toilet she runs into the bathroom and starts sniffing the toilet bowl, scratches at the crotch of your underwear and gives you a startled look every time you grunt.  I’ve never felt so scrutinized as when I try to defecate in my own home now.  I guess it makes sense it would be your canine family member that would have the most judgement pertaining to your rear end considering this is where the meet and greet ensues at every dog park.  Still, I wonder how I stack up against the Labradoodle on the next block.

Every day with my family, including our newest member, Bella, I’m remembering what it feels like to have parts of my day injected with pleasant surprises.  This blog isn’t advocating buying a puppy every time you fall into depression.  It’s just a story to remind myself that changing up the pattern in the fabric of our lives (yes, I know this is a super cheesy catchphrase) might be what’s needed to freshen up one’s perspective and catch a few more rays of sunshine.