Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bad Luck?

My stepmother just pointed this out to me.

I'm going to be turning 30 on Friday the 13th. Is this a bad omen? Uh-oh!

Is 30 the first over-the-hill birthday? Will this mean I'm officially an old person?

I wanted to stay a 20-something forever.

I don't like this. Not one bit.

How to be Generous When You Have Not Much to Give

Maybe it should be titled, "How to be charitable when you have not much to give."

When I was getting a regular paycheck, I sometimes liked to donate money here and there to various charitable organizations: the Ocean Conservancy, Salvation Army, local public radio stations, etc. Now, however, I am no longer in a financial position to donate money.

I was embarrassed the other day when my alma mater called asking for a $200 donation. Sneakily, they asked me first of all, what had I done with my mathematics degree? I told them I had become a survey statistician. Of course I didn't tell them that I was now unemployed. So, thinking that I had this impressive job, they asked for the donation. I stuttered a bit, and said I couldn't afford it. Then he said, "Well, how about $100?" Again, I replied, "I'm sorry, but I can't afford to give right now." Then, to make matters worse, he said, "Well, what about a small donation of only $35?" I went on to say, "If gas and grocery prices were more affordable, perhaps I could. But, for now I am unable." Finally he let me off the hook and we said goodbye to each other. After I hung up, I was somewhat infuriated that my university would ask me for money when I had paid thousands for my education. Wasn't that enough?? They should give ME money to help pay off the credit card bills I have, since I used credit cards to help pay for school. And yes, seven years later I'm still paying on the credit I used for school.

But anyway, that is neither here nor there. The purpose of this post is to make you aware of several charities I have been participating in for the last few months on a daily basis. It only takes a few minutes a day and is completely free. Before I get into it, though, I must first say that these methods should not replace monetary donations, if you've been thinking about or making monetary donations. However, if you're poor like me, there are some things you can do, and all it takes is a few clicks of the mouse.

The first is known as The Hunger Site. All you need to do is click the big button that says, "Click here to give - it's free!" Upon doing so, a small amount of food will be donated to someone in need. Then, if you can spare just a few more moments, click on the tabs at the top of the screen and click the button for each tab. The tabs are: Breast Cancer, Child Health, Literacy, Rainforest, Animal Rescue.

The other is called FreeRice. This little bit is rather fun. It educates you and tests you at the same time. All you need to do is correctly answer a vocabulary question to donate a small amount of rice. Today, for instance, I found myself at level 38 and had donated 1,360 grains of rice.

Who pays for all this, you might ask? Well, sponsors do! And yes, these are legitimate click-to-give sites. Do some research to find out for yourself, but if you must find out for sure, the reputable has an article you can read:

These two are the ones I've been using regularly to satisfy my need to be charitable, however, there are others. For instance, there is a small list HERE and HERE. I have not researched these last two links, though.

If there is a way you have been giving, please leave a comment and let us know.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Almost a Month Later

I was going to wait until May 29th to peep in and say hello, but I don't have that kind of patience. I don't know if anyone is even reading this blog anymore, because who visits a ghost town?

I hope you all have been doing well. I'm not going to throw a self-pity party or anything, but I've really come to acknowledge a pattern with myself, my feelings and my behavior. This is probably how it's going to be for the rest of my life: I sleep for two or three days at a time in a state of extreme fatigue, disinterest and depression, then, for the next two or three days I'm awake, energetic, interested. Today is one of those days, one of those "awake" days. I don't feel depressed. I've done some good things and I've done some bad things. Today I surprised myself by working up enough nerve to speak to the senator's office on the telephone about the Climate Security Act. Of course I was nervous and could hardly think a word ahead of my speech, but the call was brief and I felt satisfied after doing it. On these "awake" days I've been out in the backyard planting peonies, anemones and milkweed for the butterflies, watering them, repotting plants, helping my husband build the privacy fence in the backyard, cutting grass and even trimming a hedge. I never really thought I'd say this, because I always thought gardening was for old people, but I really enjoy the feeling I get from giving things life or watching them grow. It's a rewarding feeling. I wish I had this energy every day, but I'm thankful to have it sometimes. It seems like my husband and dad get all excited when I have an awake day; it's like they celebrate. I'm glad it makes them happy, but I'm really sad that my bad days make them sad. I don't think my mother understands, still. She seems to just think I can find another job. If I could work, I wouldn't have left my perfect job.

In the next two weeks we'll be going camping for a while; just a few days. We go a number of times every spring and summer. To be perfectly honest I absolutely dread it. I used to look forward to going camping, but not anymore. I don't know why I lost interest in it. Probably the same reason I lost interest in most things. For over a year now I've dreamed of having a laptop to take with me, so I could sit and create my digital artwork or, yes, even play games while sitting around the site. I've entered a few sweepstakes for a laptop. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Speaking of material things, lately I've really had a desire for material things. Mostly it's the laptop but I have also been wondering if I could possibly get back into photography, something I was quite passionate about in my late teens and early 20s. I have a Nikon N6006 model, but it's not digital. I want to try to sell it, but I won't get much for it, maybe $100 if I'm lucky, and the new digital Nikon SLRs cost an arm and a leg. I still have lots of lenses from my old Nikon, but I'm not for sure if they're compatible with the digitals. They are auto-focus, though, so... maybe? Anyway, I've been entertaining the thought that maybe photography would get me out of the bed regularly. I could get in the car on a whim and drive somewhere, anywhere, and take pictures. Not because I was shooting for a photo contest or trying to pretend to be Ansel Adams, but because pushing the shutter button and seeing the results on screen is so gratifying, to know that I captured a moment. It's nice, being able to go back to that moment, to examine it further and in greater detail. Moments go by too fast and we simply can't examine a moment, not unless we had the power to stop time.

On my good days I've been entering sweepstakes regularly. It's still my current obsession. I haven't won much of anything, aside from a music download, a Blockbuster rental, a loaf of bread, a Nintendo DS video game and a set of four mini-bowls. I also won two tickets to a Johnny Mathis concert in my city, but I couldn't find anyone interested enough to go with me. To be honest, I didn't even know who Johnny Mathis was when I entered the sweepstakes. I've only been doing sweepstakes a little over a month, so I know I have to be patient for the big win. It will come. And there will be more than one.

I can't keep my mouth shut any longer. I was going to wait until June 14th to tell you this, and it's only a couple weeks away but I still can't wait. I wanted to wait exactly one year from June 14th last year to share the good news. Well, here goes. Last year, one day after my 29th birthday, on June 14th, 2007, I had lasik eye surgery on both eyes. I've been seeing 20/20 ever since! I've had to wear glasses or contacts since I was a little girl, and I couldn't even tell you what the water looked like while swimming underwater. Last year, a month or two after my surgery, I put on my goggles and swam around, looking at the sunlight dancing on the bottom of the pool, all in crystal clarity. And, as if that wasn't enough, I could get out of the bed AND see the alarm clock without having to put on glasses. Also, I felt very self-conscious in glasses and contacts always hurt my eyes. I do suffer from dry-eye from time-to-time, but it is totally worth it.

As far as friends are concerned, I haven't been keeping in touch with a single soul. No penpals, no one. I even pretended to be "sick" to get out of a lunch date with four of my ex-coworkers at the last minute. There's a reason, though. There are three coworkers that I feel comfortable around, and I can confide in them. You just know they're going to ask me all kinds of questions, right? They invited another coworker to come with us, and I'm not terribly comfortable around her. So, I called and gave the good-ole "stomach hurts" excuse a try. My husband happened to hint around to one of the girls that I would just be comfortable going to lunch with the three of them, and they got the hint, so now it appears it will just be us going to lunch sometime next week. I haven't seen them in three months. There are two girls who live locally that I want to see: Laurel and Chris. They don't know each other, but they both have kids and I think they would get along splendidly, so perhaps I will try to get all three of us together sometime. I do want to see them both, though. I need a friend, just someone to see and smile with, play a game with, walk with, talk with, eat with, drink tea with, and it's all my fault that I don't have a close friend, because I keep to myself too much. The thing is, though, I should be a friend to them when they need me, not the other way around. To have friends you have to be a good friend, and, I'm not a good friend. How's that for self-flattery? I feel guilty because everyone is willing to be a friend, but I'm stuck in some hermit/recluse world, where I dream about going out with friends but simply can't work-up enough energy to do it.

But, let's remember. There are the good days, the "awake" days. I have finally accepted the fact that I am an ultra-rapid cycling bipolar and it's going to be this way until I either get better or die. Good days are wonderful. I think it's supposed to be this way. Why? I don't take good days for granted. I do, however, feel terribly ashamed that I am mentally disabled and I am completely disgusted with myself when I think of it, so this is one thing I need to overcome.

I may be back soon. To tell you the truth, lately I've missed blogging. I will probably never spend as much time doing it as I used to, but yes, I've missed it.