Saturday, February 25, 2017

Give a hoot; don't pollute!

Litter is my biggest pet peeve. It bothers me even more than when someone uses a hyphen instead of an em or en dash, and that is really saying something.

I have said many times, in many mediums that there are only two acceptable reasons to litter:
  1. Someone is threatening to kill you if you don't throw your empty McD's bag, water bottle or losing lottery tickets out of the car.
  2. Continuing to carry your grocery bag of wing bones, bag of chips, or half-eaten burger will impeded your ability to run away from a would-be assassin.
I am tired of people having no regard for their community. But I am even more tired of having to look at it when I walk my dog nearly every day. So most days (not including a couple of winter months) I pick up things along our 1-2 mile neighborhood stroll. Fortunately, because I do this so often, most days I have just a couple of things to pick up. Unfortunately, last year, my perception of litter became more heightened, and I started to become bothered by little bits of trash in people's lawns and driveways. These various items likely fell out of their garbage bags, or they might have been dropped there or were carried by the wind. But whatever the reason, the homeowners/renters do not feel compelled to pick them up. Last night, I reached down in someone's driveway and picked up a plastic lei that had been there for weeks. A few houses down, I picked up a spoon from the edge of a yard which had been there since sometime in January. Two weeks ago, I walked several feet into someone's yard to pick up wrapping paper that had been there since just after Christmas. I know I should not be doing this. I am pretty sure it constitutes as trespassing, but these things are so visible on my walk, and I just get tired of seeing them.

When I went to confession just before Christmas, I told the very traditionally conservative priest that whenever I pick up litter, I often wish something bad on the person. Not death. Nothing serious. But I find myself saying things like "I hope you were throwing up all night or had a horrible hangover the next day" when I pick up a beer can. Or "I hope you felt your chest tighten and stained your shirt" as I pick up a fast-food bag and ketchup packets. and, my most often "I hope you get into a coughing fit and that your lungs don't turn too black" (I did not mention that one to the priest). The priest, who actually chuckled, told me that if I felt this way, it might be best to stop picking up litter. I told him I was not sure I could. He also suggested I pray for them. I tried that for a few days. Then I was back to cursing people, though a little less often.

When I was nearly done with my walk last night, and had filled my bag with a variety of things, I noticed a piece of mail in a yard near ours. I walked a couple of feet into the yard and saw an official-looking envelope addressed to the woman who lives across the street. I hated to leave it there, as it would surely blow away. I figured the mail carrier dropped it (our neighborhood has had plenty of issues with mediocre mail people). I decided to pick it up and walk across the street. Because I had my dog with me, I did not want to ring the bell, so I just put it in the already full mailbox. And then I went home and told the hubs, who was quite upset. I get it. It was wrong. The neighbor whom I barely know might have thought I was taking mail from the box and could have called the police. In fact, there is a chance, although remote, that one day when I walk into someone's yard to pick up some trash, the homeowner might accuse of me something. I intend to call the police to ask what I should do in this situation. Unfortunately when I was walking last night, I also came upon a raw hamburger patty in a grocery bag that my dog almost got to. This was the third time in two months that someone has tossed out raw meat (the last two times it was a single chicken breast) in the same location. Some local people think maybe someone is trying to poison animals in the area. I hope it is not that. But I figure a phone call will not hurt, though a police officer might laugh when I call.

In the meantime, I will likely keep on picking up litter and attempting to keep my little part of America clean. And hopefully I can resist the urge to stop walking into others' yards to try to keep their places clean. As for wishing for hangovers and coughing fits? I am still working on it. Lent does start next week!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Some days I feel as if I am drowning.

At this very moment in my life, I feel okay. Overall, I am a pretty positive, optimistic person. When I get down, it rarely last more than a couple of hours. Even when someone does me wrong, depending on the person, I am usually over it within an hour (my kid) or a few hours or a half a day (the hubby) or a day or so (coworker or friend). I used to hold grudges much longer. But life is short, and I have learned to let things go.

But lately, I have these days, sometimes fortunately only half days, where I feel overcome. This usually happens to me as I am lying awake at night, fretting about something. Mostly it is my kid and various things around that, not the least of which is her going to high school in the fall a bit of a distance from our house. I fret about my job, which is not stable. I fret about the husband's unemployment. After more than a half year without work, he finally starts a job in two weeks, but that brings with it some different anxieties. I fret about my various relationships, from marriage, to parenting, to relatives, to friends.

I worry about myself as a person. A lot. Some days I think I could be a better human being, and then other days I think I let people walk all over me too much. I worry about letting people down. Sometimes I think I could be doing so much more, but I don't know what. Or where. Or how.

I think my feelings of dread, worry, and feeling lost began around the election and have stayed since then. It kind of took a piece of me, sadly. I feel differently than I used to. But I don't seem to know how to get past that. In my liberally conservative views (or is it conservatively liberal), I feel alone at times. I am scared for the country. I (try to) believe the best in people. But sometimes it is so hard. Whether it is seeing litter in my neighborhood and picking it up for the 10th day in a row, or hearing/watching people chant "Build the wall. Go back home."

It seems so simple to me: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But I guess it is not. And I don't get it.

And then I start to question myself.

And I worry.

Yeah, so I feel okay right now. Not great. Certainly not at peace. A bit aimless. Somewhat frustrated. (As an aside, I have not been sleeping well; and as a result, my brain does not seem to be working as well as it used to. My memory has certainly suffered.)

But I will try to keep on keeping on.

And choosing kindness and love.

And going high when they go low. For the most part.

But I will still worry. And struggle.

I am not sure I know how else to live right now. (As another aside, #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike has been trending on Twitter. I could say a lot of about that. But just not in 140 chars.)