We have to help ourselves. We just do.

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Mornin’ all.

This is going to be a quick one free from jokes. I actually just want people to think about it.

A dishonorably discharged former soldier dressed himself all up in tactical gear and went into a Texas church during their services. He did what anyone given these basic facts would expect him to do. Twenty-six people are now dead.

Thankfully, he’s dead, too.

The top trending hashtags and posts on social media are variations of “PrayersForTexas.”

This is a serious question. I’m not trying to be an asshole or be sarcastic. This is an honest question from one human being struggling to understand the world to another:

What are prayers supposed to do?

A man who was clearly psychotic already shot up people who were praying. They’re already dead. The worst has already happened to them. Their fates have already been sealed. What are prayers going to do for them now?

Are the prayers for the benefit of those left in the wake? The family members who have to deal with the horror? The people in that church who didn’t die will have the gut-wrenching images replay in their heads for the rest of their lives. They will watch their friends and loved ones die over and over and over in their memories every single day from here on out. What are “prayers” going to do for them, either?

If there is a god, he allowed someone to kill a house full of folks gathered for the sole purpose of praising him. These were his own people. These were the believers. Surely an all powerful, all knowing, all loving god could have easily stopped the series of events at any point along the way before any blood was shed.

Yet, the tragedy was not stopped.

What we’re left with then is a situation where if there is a god, he couldn’t help, or simply wouldn’t. Twenty-six people are dead. They’re gone. And they were taken in such a way that hundreds of lives are now utterly shattered. No god stopped it. No god prevented this from happening. No god intervened. And no god is going to help moving forward.

You know who could have stopped this?

Us.

Look, we have a serious mental health issue in this country, compounded by the easy access to mass murder tools. Every time something like this happens, it just highlights the fact that we’re doing fuck all about it. Maybe instead of praying and then going about our lives as if we’ve done something, we should ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING. I know it’s hard. I know it will bring up many uncomfortable and difficult questions.

The shooter in this situation was a known threat. He had a long, well documented history of extreme violence. We can’t just say “oh, we never expected him to do something like this.” Folks DID know. And they allowed him far more freedoms than he should have been allowed given his history.

What’s the quote? Something like…the freedom to swing your fist ends at my nose. We’re so afraid of infringing on the rights of severely mentally unstable people that we’re endangering everyone else.

With good reason, I’ll grant you that. We used to be utterly terrible to the mentally ill. Until the 70s and 80s, mentally ill people were kept in, essentially, cages. It makes sense that in our deserved guilt over our own actions, we’ve gone too far the other way. In many cases, we’re putting their individual rights over the rights and safety of the rest of the community.

Folks, I’m not advocating for the horrible treatment the mentally ill suffered in the past. We CANNOT go back to that. I’m saying there IS a happy medium. There IS a way to structure our health system to treat criminally insane people with compassion while still keeping the world safe from them. I believe we CAN figure this out.

WE can.

Us.

The ones we know for certain are actually here in this world, and who do, in fact, have the power to make things better.

This is not an anti-god rant. There very well may be a god. I don’t know. But he’s not here, right? He wasn’t there in that church. Of, if he was, he certainly didn’t stop shit from going down. If he was there, he was willing to let things play out as they would.

Maybe that’s the nature of any god that exists. Maybe there is a god, but he wants to just observe how we handle life.

Or maybe there’s no god at all.

Either way, the message is clear. We have to help ourselves. Even if you believe in god, our terrible history of mass murders HAS to be a wake up call that prayer is not going to fix things.

“Prayer gives me comfort.”

Then pray. If you want to pray, pray.

But don’t stop at the praying. It is not enough.

Say your prayer, then use that strengthened feeling you get as your motivation to make the changes we need. Vote for people who are pushing for mental health reform. Support hospitals that are researching new ways to identify and assist those on the edge. Speak up if you know someone is about to snap. Prove to those suffering in the wake of this horror show in Texas that you feel their pain, and you’re willing to dig in and help make sure this stops happening.

And for humanity’s sake, donate to make sure those poor people in Texas get the support and mental health services they need to heal. I cannot imagine life in their shoes right now. They are going to need all the help they can get. You can donate here:

https://www.gofundme.com/SutherlandSprings

This page has been verified as legitimate by GoFundMe, and all of the proceeds will go directly to the families in crisis.

#WeCanFigureThisOut #MentalHealthReformForTexas

Thus concludes my Musing for Monday, November 6, 2017. Think about it. Please. We need to.

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*growl**grumble**curmudgeonish snarl*

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Mornin’ all.

Winter is over and the bears have come out. And not “internet” bears…

*If you don’t already know what the internet calls a “bear”, then you don’t live a life where the info would be very pertinent. I’m just sayin’, Google at your own risk if you must, but don’t get offended if you don’t like what you see.*

…I’m talking teeth gnashing, ornery summbitches that’ll mess your shit up for a pile of trash. They’re out and they’re fierce.

At least one of them is. I’m in a terrible mood. Not even this coffee is helping.

To be fair, it’s shit coffee because I had to make it. Teen 2.0 forgot to set a pot up for us. It’s okay. Since he is the coffee connoisseur in the house, he’ll be suffering for his forgetfulness. Instant karma.

The cat woke me up early by licking my nose, then screaming in my face. I didn’t actually mind because I was having terrible dreams. I got downstairs to find a pile of rubber-band-induced vomit.

Bad dreams. Shit sleep. Horrible coffee. And cat vomit. Helluva great way to start the day.

“Bethie, where did the ‘glass is half full’ attitude we constantly get annoyed by go?”

Sorry. I warned you I was feeling snarly. I’ve got a lot of clutter at the moment, both physical and mental.

See, I’ve been trying to clear out the dining room, AKA:Oscar’s Trash Can. I’ve got guests coming all through May, and I must must MUST get that room in order. Or, in as much order as I can get it. I’m going to do my best, but I’m still a hoarder. There will be a lot of shit left in there even when I’m done.

“Just grab a box of trash bags and go to town.”

If it were that easy, don’t you think I already would have done it? HM? I’d LOVE to be able to let go of shiny things and greasy things and squiggly bits and knobby doodads and twisty thingamabobs… I look at other peoples’ houses and honestly wonder how in the hell they live with nothing in their rooms. It’s legitimately a mystery to me.

I actually have let go of a lot, you know. I have one room that’s crammed full, not an entire house anymore. The Big Clean a couple years back has stuck for every other room.

And I will throw out a fair amount from the dining room, too.

It’s just going to take me awhile. I can’t just grab shit randomly and shove it into a trash bag. I can’t do it. I will sit there side eyeing the stack of bags and get so anxious that I have to- HAVE TO- know what’s inside. It’s a compulsion, not a desire. Not a want. Not a “quirk”.

And, to be clear, it’s not “garbage”. None of it is rotting or discarded wrappings or a collection of every rind from every piece of watermelon I’ve ever eaten. There aren’t stacks of junk crushing mummified animal bodies flat or piles of rat shit heaped up on anything. It’s mostly metal bits I’ve stripped from cars and electronics, all sorted according to the CCFS.

“CCFS?”

You aren’t familiar with the Coffee Can Filing System? It’s similar to the tried and true Dewey Decimal, except for in almost every single way. The CCFS goes like this:

Greasy things go in large plastic Maxwell House containers. Once they get de-greased, they are broken up into large utilitarian bits, like brackets and push rods and structural pieces, and small shiny bits. The utilitarian pieces go into large cardboard cans, like from cheap ass coffee we drink on our broke weeks, and the regular shiny bits get placed in small metal cans, like from Hills Bros., or Chase and Sanborn, because they are special.

Springs have their own cans, because springs are awesome and deserve their own cans.

Nuts and washers go into old film cans, the metal ones 35mm film used to come in before they started putting it in little plastic cylinders. I know they’re not technically coffee cans, but come on. They’re just nuts and washers. Duh.

…unless they are brass. Those are special and, as such, also get their own can.

Bolts or screws go into a huge Folger’s can, because why wouldn’t they?! Unless they are automotive interior bolts, which go into a separate can, or tiny electronic screws, which go into several small Altoids tins.

Now, electronic bits are harder, because they are small, fragile, and somewhat toxic. I have a bead sorter for the most delicate parts, which also holds transistors and resistors. Those go in there because they are small and round. Like beads.

Then we get to my super special cans. They’re not actually coffee cans. They are aluminum food cans, the kind that have the lining on the inside for acidic foods like tomatoes. Those are where the prime bits go, and I have made a special little stand for those out of an old film projector case.

“What would be a ‘prime bit’ Bethie?”

I’m glad you asked!

A prime bit would be something either very shiny, like a computer hard drive internal disc, or something that’s uniquely shaped, like the impeller from inside a diesel injection pump that looks just like the inside of the Hadron super collider if you hold it out away from you and squint. Basically, if I’ve never seen it before, or it’s super shiny, it goes in a special can in the special drawer in the special stand where I can easily access it.

So that is the CCFS in a nutshell. Of course there are tons of variations of the system, depending on the finds, the season, my ever changing whims… It’s kind of a subjective filing system.

But it’s mine. Every hoarder has one.

We have this customer at work that the night crew calls The Magazine Lady. She comes in and sits in a mart kart in front of the magazine rack for hours early in the morning. She does buy some things, and when she does, those things need to be placed in bags. She’ll pull her money from her purse, which is also in little bags, and then sort her change and her receipt into bags when she’s done. Everything she buys goes in its own bag, even if it’s a bagged product, then they get put together in a larger bag inside ANOTHER bag.

I know what her house looks like, folks. I know what her car looks like. I know what life looks like for her day to day. She follows the PBFS, and she is bound to it by much stronger ties than those I deal with. I feel bad for her.

Mostly.

She’s not just a hoarder, she’s also a real asshole, so my sympathy only goes so far. You can be a kind hoarder. And let’s face it, if you’ve got such a strong difficulty for people to look past to begin with, you SHOULD strive to at least be kind. I’m grouchy today, but I’m not an asshole. Usually.

Hell, could you imagine? A fat, broke, inept, compulsive hoarder…I really can’t afford to be an asshole on top of it. I have to have at least one redeeming quality. If you can’t achieve any other standard in life, kindness is the one quality you should always prioritize.

It’s not easy to work through the stuff in the dining room. It brings up other things for me, memories and emotional baggage I wish would just get out of my psyche forever. I wish you could tip your head to the side and whack the top and let the mental clutter fall out of your ear like in the cartoons. Wouldn’t that be great?

Ah, but then you’d risk throwing the baby out with the bath water, eh?

I just have to keep at it I suppose. I completely cleared a walkway on my first day. I broke down a holding box of parts I grabbed and hadn’t yet processed on the second. I’ll get there. I know I will. My guests will still think it’s a horrible mess, because let’s face it, the CCFS isn’t for everyone. But I’ll know how far I’ve come.

I just have to keep plugging away.

Thus concludes a bit of a Musing for Friday, April 28, 2017. It’s already the 28th? Where did April go??? Shit. Now I have to register my car before work today or risk getting a ticket Monday morning on my way in. We’ve got some really sneaky cops that have gotten very good at hiding along the route to work. It’s kind of impressive, really. This one hides his rig so well you absolutely cannot see it at all until it’s too late. I have to tip my hat…and hurry to get my car registered before the shark gets me…

And so, we meet again…

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Mornin’ all.

Pat Benatar is belting it out on the radio right now giving me the urge to snap my fingers and jerk my shoulder in a sassy fashion. I’m drinking my coffee tempered with chocolate milk this morning, the delicious result of my man’s store ordering way too much and having to sell it at half price just to clear the shelves…

*Top Tip: If your SO comes home with two gallons of chocolate milk, definitely add it to your morning coffee. I feel fancy. Like I’m drinking those International Cafe drinks the ads used to make seem so sexy. I’m still drinking it out of an old salsa jar, so not fancy fancy. I’m not letting it go to my head or anything. But I’m definitely feeling upper middle class redneck. Ooh la la. Maybe I’ll really treat myself and let Calgon take me away later.*

…and the pup is going to try it on Special K for breakfast. It’s going to be an icky weekend for me. I know this. However, I can’t fault the start. Perhaps it won’t be so bad after all.

So how’s it going?

I feel like I haven’t been on in ages. This week we had beautiful weather.

Let me clarify. It’s been March in NH beautiful. No Bermuda shorts and tank tops or anything, but it was perfect weather for working outside on the cars. I was doing repairs on two of them, and a mad-dash stripping parts out of another so we can get it out of here before the next one arrives.

*Important message: These are hoopdies I can make money off, folks, so don’t get the wrong idea. I know I already put on airs about my coffee, but let’s keep it all in perspective. Salsa. Jar. Coffee cup. We didn’t hit powerball. It’s not like I’m having to Tetris Lambos around Ferraris to fit them in the drive. We just got lucky and hit a string of rusty money makers.*

I was scrambling to get $$ off the parts car, stacking bits and doodads up like a pro. And then yesterday hit. We’ll call that chapter, “The Day of Reckoning,” in which our brave heroine literally becomes the victim of her own hoarding when parts go a’tumblin’ to and fro and on her foot.

“Oh, Bethie.”

Hey, in my own defense, we stripped out three cars over the winter. People don’t buy car parts for their projects until spring. I went into the deal knowing I’d just have to…uh…creatively stack the stuff. I knew space would get temporarily tight again.

A couple weeks ago, my man looked at the room and said, “We need one big tool chest instead of all these small ones.”

He was right, because we’ve got tools spread far and wide and it would be lovely to have them all in one location so every repair doesn’t turn into another round of “If I was a wire cutter, where would I be?” Don’t get me wrong. I like that game. I just get sick of playing it every fucking time.

Gets old.

The tool chest is a three part-er he got at one helluva deal from Harbor Freight. I don’t know how many of you use tools, but if you do and you don’t shop online at Harbor Freight, you’re missing out on sweet, sweet savings. Even with the shipping, the unit cost less than half of what it would have cost locally. Taking the price as a sign of organizational fate, he ordered it.

The Tool Chest of Awesomeness arrived.

It arrived before I could sell some parts.

It arrived amid the mess, sitting empty, eyeballing the piles of tools longingly.

“I can be so useful if you just let me,” The Tool Chest of Awesomeness said as I stood stirring regular milk into my coffee yesterday morning like some uncultured swine.

That combined with the alternator deciding to obey physics and crush my toe gave me a reality check. It was clear that I had to put the wrenches down for the day and dive into the hoard. The Tool Chest of Awesomeness is right…it CAN be useful. I would definitely have more usable space if I can get the other tool boxes out of the way. I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

…and then rolled one sleeve back down to mop up my tears of helpless frustration a few hours later when it felt like nothing would ever be right in the world again.

I get overwhelmed, folks. I think it’s part of the hoarding deal. I reach a point where it honestly feels as if there is no hope. That point used to stop me.

Let’s be clear. That feeling, that brick wall, is not a matter of boredom. It’s not like I get halfway through an organizational project and am like, “Meh, screw it. I wanna go glitter something.” I mean, of course I *always* want to glitter something, but that’s not what stops me in a cleaning project. Glitter can wait.

No, in those moments, it’s not a matter of boredom, nor is it laziness. It’s a war inside, because I most definitely, absolutely want to finish the task. I just get an almost consuming feeling that I cannot do it. That I, personally, do not have the ability to put things in a sensical order and that I’m an idiot for even trying.

Like I said, that used to stop me. Now, if I’m working on my own, I step back, wipe my tears, and make a list.

*Sidenote to my big sister: Yeah, yeah…yuk it up You win. THIS TIME.*

I’ll write down the ideas, take a break, and wait until I can go over it with someone before continuing.

Yesterday I didn’t need the list because I had something better: The kids. The teens had no school, and the pup had a half day. Boy, are the kids good at talking me out of my own head. I called Teen Prime in when I started to feel like it was too much and I wasn’t enough and he knew what to say to keep me moving forward.

I just need to know in those moments that my idea will work, because my head tells me it won’t so loudly that I get muddled and can’t tell the difference. If I can tell someone else the plan and they think it’ll work, I get rejuvenated. I just need someone else to say, “I agree.”

“You just need to learn to tell yourself you can do it, Bethie.”

Dude, I just rolled my eyes so hard it put every teenage girl throughout history to shame.

See, that’s the thing, folks. If it’s not your issue, of course that’s what you think. Of course you look at me and say, “Just believe.” I’ve heard that over and over about all kinds of my, uh, we’ll call them “quirks”. “If you just…” “You don’t need someone else to validate…” “You need to love you and embrace your inner power and trust in your feministic magic vagina yadda yadda yadda blah blah…”

GAH ENOUGH!!!

Yes. I *should* be able to know that I can clean a fucking room, for gawd’s sake. I mean, it’s just a room. It’s stuff. Put it in stacks that make sense, throw out what I don’t use, and move on. It doesn’t have to be such a goddamn ordeal.

But it is.

That’s how my head works. Logically I agree 100% that it’s “just” and I “should”. Thinking about the car work I did this week, all of it is arguably much more difficult on the skill scale. Don’t take this the wrong way, but can you weld a cracked door panel back together without warping it when the break goes through not one, but two critical bolt holes? Because I did. I didn’t even think twice before diving into the job, either. I saw the crack, got out the welding supplies, and went for it.

Yet, I see a messy room and it’s like I’ve been dumped into the middle of someone’s brain surgery, handed a scalpel, and told, “You’re his only chance now. Don’t fuck this up.”

Don’t you have those “things”? Isn’t there something you look at another person doing and think jealously to yourself, “It looks so easy. WHY can’t I do that?”

So no, I’m not enough to be my own pep-talker. Maybe someday it’ll be easier for me, and I will be enough to talk myself out of that rut. For now, I need an “attaboy” from another source. At least I understand and accept that. At least I figured out how to work with what I’ve got, not just wish for something different.

Have you had enough of my personal psychoanalysis? Yeah, me too. Let’s get back on track.

Anyway, I got a good chunk done yesterday. Today is going to be jam packed, but this evening I should be able to finish up with the parts organizing and get to where I can roll out all the other tool boxes and fill the new Tool Chest of Awesomeness.

I can’t wait to get that puppy all set up. I get to use a label maker for its intended purpose, not just to annoy the kids by labeling all of their stuff. I mean, I’m still going to do that, too. How else would they know a pencil is a pencil? But I finally have something that actually requires legit labeling.

Pat Benatar was a fluke. The radio station went to something very Bieber-esque, so I decided to switch to the pc and Sia is now blasting through my headphones. Fire is meeting gasoline right now and it’s a beautiful thing. It’s getting me pumped. That’s a good thing. I need to be jazzed right now.

Sia. Fancy coffee. Tool Chest of Awesomeness. A label maker locked and loaded. And you putting up with my shit for awhile to help me clear my head.

Okay then. *deep breath* Unto the breach!

Thus concludes an emo Musing for Saturday, March 19, 2016. *clickity click* Hear that? I just made a label that says, “fancy milk.” …what? I have to warm up the label maker somehow.