I'm reading a wonderful book, Here If You Need Me. It's the story of a woman who was widowed and became a Unitarian minister and chaplain to the Maine Warden Service, going along on search-and-rescue missions in the Maine woods, ministering to the families, etc. I'm not very far into it and I'm already hooked, she's a wonderful writer, honest and wry about subjects that aren't funny at all, like the sudden death of her husband. And every time she refers to her "Plucky Widow Story" I snort in sisterhood, though my story is different from and not as interesting as hers. But anyway....
The thing that set me off this morning, and I admit I'm tired because it has been a shitty long week and I'm also hormonal, but what set me off was her description of the period after her husband died, and how neighbors brought food and neighborhood men would show up to fix things for her. And this set me off because I have at this moment a busted sprinkler head in my front yard, I know at least 4 able-bodied neighbor men have observed it, and I very strongly suspect that one of their offspring broke it because their kids all play in my yard, and I know they know this because they are often outside tending to their own yards while their kids are running their bikes and chasing balls onto mine, and nobody has asked, "Hey, can I help you with that?" Because I would say yes. But nobody asks, and I will not go to them and beg. They know I'm a widow, at least a couple know I'm a SAH survivor, obviously I work long hours. Frankly, it's easier to hire help than get help.
But I don't feel invisible, because I did get a shitty letter from the HOA, bitching at me because my yard isn't as perfect as they'd like. Mind you, my yard looks okay, I spend about $200 a month to keep it mowed, fertilized and pest controlled, but I will not violate the water management district's watering restrictions, and that's enough to make the grass alive but not LUSH. They'd prefer a lusher, greener lawn. When rainfall has been sparse, and we are coming out of a long drought. Yeah. And if I don't get on the ball and make the grass grow without rain, they could fine me. I double dog dare them - I will make such a stink.
Oh, and even our trade contractor stood me up, he hasn't come out to look at the irrigation system, and it has been a week. So I'm giving up on him, I'll have to start calling other companies in my ample spare time at work.
So, in my tired, hormonal, self-pitying mood this morning, I couldn't help comparing the experience of the author with my own. I have lived in this neighborhood for over 11 years. These people are not strangers. God, I hate this place.
I wondered if it's me, if I'm too fiercely independent, but I realize that I became "fiercely independent" by necessity, because during the two years of my husband's horrible slow death, only three friends (two of mine, one of his) stopped by to visit with him, or picked up the phone to call, or offer any assistance.
I did not reject any help from other people, none was offered. My friends were there when needed without strings attached, both are still my friends today, his friend was all talk and no help. I haven't spoken to him in years. I went back to work a few days after my husband's funeral and have been dealing with whatever comes along ever since. I have come to expect nothing from friends and neighbors, so I am not disappointed. And now I live in this neighborhood full of Good Christians with fish on the backs of their cars, and they may or may not wave back when I wave to them. You'll know they are Christians by
This experience has taught me a lot, and though I am bitter and self-pitying this morning, the thing that I really have learned is that if I see someone who may need a hand, I will reach out and offer it. And also contribute my time and effort to things like the Red Scarf Project and others, that send anonymous little morale boosters to people having a tough time. And it's sad but true - the online knitting world was kinder to me than my own neighbors. So I remember that and try to pay it forward.
Except at work. I won't lift a damn finger for those people. My boss R got to hear it yesterday - we had a meeting with another department, and I was asked repeatedly to do their jobs for them, "Could you write this?" (This being a basic business letter.) Then the other one chimed in: "You can call him and negotiate this." R flatly told them that neither I nor anyone in our department would do the project for them, this was their job.But this is what I get from every department in the company. This task is is not going to be easy, fun or glamorous, so let's get Catherine to do it. Nobody, okay, maybe three or four people in my company can write a grammatically correct, intelligent business letter. I'm constantly shocked by how bad their basic skills are, though they all purport to be college graduates. They still see me as The Paralegal, so anything with even the vaguest, most tenuous legal connection is passed off to me. Please write this for me. Please help me do this. Please, please - and I pass it right back, sometimes it takes an email exchange that grows increasingly testy on my part before they give up, because Catherine is a bitch and will not help them. I'm sorry, I didn't enable my own children like this, I'll be goddamned if I'll do it for adults. Yesterday was good - R didn't wait to grow increasingly testy, as I was opening my mouth to tactfully deflect the work back to them, he jumped in and unleashed the Testybomb at the first suggestion that Catherine was to do any of this. Bless R.
And it's Friday, and I have another nightstand to assemble, but I expect it to go much faster this time, and we are finally getting some rain, so the bitch from the HOA management company should get off my back about my grass, and I plan to spend this rainy weekend indulging in movies and knitting. I'm about halfway through the first of the two Red Scarves. And I'm itching to start more socks, but I have enough socks in play right now. And I have to finish my big purple sweater, because it looks like the Asheville trip will be pushed back two weeks for work reasons, and that's not a bad thing, but it does mean I'll need the sweater even more by mid-October. I may be bringing Murphy to Asheville with me. It's such a dog-friendly town, and he'd love a road trip.
That's enough ranting for now - Happy Friday!