For the last 8 years, I have taken a few moments out of my hectic (not) New Year's Day schedule to close the books. Used to be, it took me a whole lot more than a few minutes, but an accordion file and an Excel spread sheet has turned this into a no-brainer. It took me less than a half- hour to reconcile the entire mess, line up the charitable receipts, and check the medical EOBs against the bills and voilà, I am ready for the tax forms to arrive and the appointment with the accountant. I didn't used to need an accountant; for six years I did it all myself. But now, circumstances have changed and I have succumbed to calling in the big guns.
Still, going through a year of expenditures was enlightening. I traveled. I replaced broken stuff that really needed replacing. (No, I have not yet found a new espresso machine, but that's another story and for the moment, old reliable is back to working. One day, I'll write about that, but not today.) I made a few more donations. I joined the JCC. Besides the travel thing, the rest is little stuff that just made life a little more pleasant. I remain pitifully frugal.
I continue to look to a future where I might retire. I am coming up on being able to collect on Ziggy's Social Security, but not quite yet. Soon. Would that be enough to sustain me without a job? Maybe. Do I want to not have a job? No, I still want to be working. Do I want to leave this job and its health insurance and hard-earned vacation benefits? Yes and no.
In the space of the last 4 months, two friends have walked away from jobs they found to be abusive and no longer customer-oriented or employee-supportive. Another has turned in her retirement papers for the spring. A fourth friend is sitting on her resignation until she meets with her boss this week to see if her 20+ -year-career can be salvaged before she tells that woman what she really thinks of her. All four have been deeply unhappy for a while. All are in the over 55 range. Three of the four will absolutely have to find another source of income. All of them are terrified.
Just as I was digging myself into a rather somber hole, I heard about the plane crash in Costa Rica. Two families were among the dead: the Steinbergs and the Weisses. I did not know either family, but the Steinbergs are cousins to a friend and fellow playwright here in Minnesota, and the Weiss family was active in United Synagogue. The kids were both USYers, the organization that gave me a leg up in so many parts of my life. Their son Ari was currently chapter president, and their daughter Hannah, a student at List College at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City, was interning at METNY (Metropolitan New York region of United Synagogue) the place where I spent much of my own formative years. According to the NY Times, both the Weiss kids played the ukulele, the same habit I picked up in USY. If I did not know these two families, I could've. They are just like mine. And in the blink of an eye, they, along with their guide, Amanda R. Geissle and the plane crew, are gone. Poof. Not coming back. Not posting on FB from the World-To-Come. Gone.
I think about my own family. I think about fragility. I think about what matters and what doesn't matter. Families are complicated, delicate things. They can disappear in an instant. None of us go on forever. Not everyone gets to have a sentient long good-bye or time to prepare. We assume that they...whoever they are...will be with us forever, but the truth is none of us have guarantees. The older we get, the deeper should be our appreciation for living, not an endless grouse about who-did-what-to-whom or be-mad-at -______. Fill in the blank of whatever relative most recently pissed you off. Being mad is pointless. If you don't like 'em, don't hang out with them. It doesn't mean you have to start a flame war. Be kind. Be tolerant. Be forgiving. It doesn't cost anything.
In that blink of an eye, though, we should also be damn sure we're busy fixing what we can. Sitting around moaning is not an option. If you don't like your elected representative, work to change them. If you don't like what's happening in your neighborhood, get out there and be present. If you don't like what you're doing at work, either work to fix it or work to get out. Just don't make everyone around you miserable because you're unhappy.
Here are my resolutions for 2018:
- continue going to the gym three days a week...I just feel better when I do.
- stop being scared of what the government is trying to do to We, the People. That's giving in and that's what they want. I will not buy into their version of domestic terrorism.
- continue writing this blog. There are days I don't want to, or even know if I can, but the emails I get tell me people are reading this and I'm hitting a nerve here and there.
- Go to LA to hear Gustavo Dudamel conduct Beethoven's 9th Symphony.
- Smile at strangers, laugh more in the supermarket, and help an old lady...other than me...across the street.
May this year bring relief, joy, peace, and stability to your world.
The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week:
Help the WP retire: buy a copy LINGUA GALACTICA.
Kindle is up now, paperback should be available by week's end.
Read it! You'll like it!