December 31, 2013

First Hodge-Podge

Original photo courtesy of Caron,
then heavily edited by yours truly
Welcome to Hodge-Podge Day here on The Beauty of Eclecticism, another semi-regular feature I am introducing for when you need updates on numerous of the disparate threads and interests that hold my life together--or sometimes try to strangle me--in one post. There really is no better metaphor for this variegated aspect of my life than the crocheted crazy quilt, a device which I learned to make at my mother's knee when she finished several projects and had numerous scraps of various yarns left over. Hence, the newly-established badge for Hodge-Podge Day. If anyone else feels the need to do some hodge-podging, you are welcome to lift the badge and use it; a simple link back would be good. (Let me know if enough of you ever want to turn this into a weekly meme, and I'll set it up here.)

Item the First: Volunteering

When you're suffering from multiple emotional health issues, and have been out of circulation from the human race for a while, finding a volunteer position can be a great way to begin to ease yourself back into the world. A couple of hours, one or two days a week at most, is a stress level most people can handle, especially when they're not being paid and can walk away any time if they feel it necessary. For me, libraries are definitely the way to go. I avidly use libraries as a patron, so what could be more natural than giving some of my time back, learning to have a very small schedule of hours when someone expects something of me again, and getting my toe back into an academic world. It's a completely symbiotic relationship, and one that I hope even may lead to a paying job eventually, once I'm ready for that again. I got my first paying job at 16 by volunteering at my hometown library; maybe, in a few months, lightning may strike again for me. In the meantime, I had my grand tour behind the locked doors of Lakewood Library today. I am the newest official volunteer of the Jefferson County Public Library system, and I start next Tuesday. I think even I can handle two hours, one day a week, for the time being.

Item the Second: The Poor

Photo courtesy of Barnes and Noble

I'm beginning to realize just how many of us desperate and destitute there are in the Denver Metro area. Yesterday, Brigid the SuperPreschooler and I had our day together, and even though I had not one dollar in my pocket, I took her to Barnes and Noble to play with their lego station and train table, two activities she dearly loves. As I sat watching my little girl play, the second person in the past three weeks walked up to me and asked if I could help her out to buy a little food. Until recently, I'd never actually considered standing in the Wal-Mart parking lot holding up a homemade cardboard sign asking for food and gas money, so I've never fully appreciated until now how much it genuinely hurts me to have to say no to these people. This woman had two little ones with her; if I'd had that dollar in my wallet, I swear I would have given it to her, considering how many, many people are fighting to help me. Poverty is the painful gift that keeps up a vicious spiral of giving.

Item the Third: Good News?!

Let's not mince words--and I rarely do!--a lot of my life sucks right now, and I tend to share that with you in jagged detail, don't I? I thought it might be healthy to give a short recap of what went RIGHT in 2013, for all our sakes.

I started this year with a mystery illness that left me in horrible abdominal pain and nausea, having to take prescription pain killers and nausea meds every six hours and visit the ER at least once or twice a month. 2014 begins with the mystery solved, my surgeries just a memory now, and the scars nicely healed. They're big and very visible, but they are a reminder that I survived, and I wear them as badges of honor.

Brigid and I safely made it to Denver, where we have found friends--and in her case, family--waiting to help us. We have not gone hungry, and we managed to make it all the way through 2013 with roofs over our heads, a state of affairs that seemed in imminent threat of changing a few times. Thank God, and thank you, all of our wonderful friends.

My applications for food stamps and Medicaid have been successful, thanks to the good people of the state of Colorado, my newly-adopted home. I can buy food, I can get medical care, and though that's not enough, it's two of the major stressers of my life removed at a stroke.

Finally, 2013 saw the end of the specter that has haunted my waking and sleeping hours for 18 years. My student loans were forgiven. All that I went through to see that miracle occur was a hellish experience, but at least it was not in vain. I start 2014 penniless, but debt-free, and there are worse places to start by far than Square One.

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