Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Mad World - Gary Jules

Serenity Now!

I’m trying to accept the things I cannot change in an effort to achieve a greater sense of happiness. So far it’s not working.

On a larger scale, I’m having a hard time dealing with my frustration about social and political issues: the Syrian refugee crisis, the Israel/Palestine dilemma, the class warfare taking place in this country, the climate change problem, unnecessary wars, the transformation of the GOP into an evil entity comprised of ignorant, gun-loving knuckle-draggers and greedy one-percenters who only want to become richer at everyone else’s expense, the possibility of a bigoted jackass like Donald Trump or a lying imbecile like Ben Carson becoming President of the United States…you know, the usual.

On a personal level, I’m more than a little troubled by the frequency and abundance of problems that most of us in the shrinking middle class face. When it rains, it sure as hell pours.

Take my hot tub, for example. Because money’s tighter than a miser in a Dickens tale – I’m not making money and Anita’s shouldering the entire burden of funding a family that includes two teenagers, two preteens, two dogs and an overly-sensitive, middle-aged, slightly-overweight partner – we aren’t in the position to purchase any big-ticket items right now. So when one of Anita’s friends offered up her hot tub “for free” (all we had to do was pay to transfer it 15 miles from her house to ours and put it back in running order since it sat in her backyard unused for a year), we jumped at the opportunity. Our 12-year-old was having a party soon and we thought it would be nice to have a hot tub option for her young guests.

As some of my friends know, I needed a cheap electrician to hook the tub up to power; after we paid $200 for that we found that the tub wasn’t heating properly. To make a long story short, some guy we didn’t know who responded to our Craigslist ad – a guy named Bill Blondheim from Bronson Development in Fraser, Michigan, an hour and a half away – spent half a day fiddling around and charged us $340 even though he didn’t fix anything. Because the tub still wouldn’t heat and wouldn’t be ready in time for our daughter’s party, we stopped payment on the check. He took us to Small Claims Court and the magistrate ended up siding with him, stating that Blondheim had the right to be paid for whatever work he had done. So over $400 ended up being deducted from Anita’s next paycheck – money that would have come in handy for Christmas, new wresting shoes for our son, a car payment, dog grooming or the other bills piling up on our dining room table.

I’m still losing sleep over this one, wondering why someone who didn’t do what we hired him to do was rewarded by our court system for being a morally bankrupt shyster.

Add to this a psychopathic ex-husband who’s been able to use that same legal system to his advantage and our detriment, a house in need of repairs, the death of friends, a second vehicle that no longer works and the normal obstacles to fulfillment and relaxation that we all experience, and one can see why serenity is more of an abstract concept – like democracy, world peace and obedient children – than a goal that can be achieved.

Things would be worse, of course, if any of us developed health problems, Anita lost her job, the kids weren’t stellar students or we had to sleep in our van. We have friends and we have each other, for which I’m thankful. But it’s hard to fulfill obligations when there’s not enough income. It’s hard to sleep when insomnia rears its head. It’s hard to smile when you just want to cry. And contentment is proving to be something to read about rather than feel.

In the words of Frank Costanza of NBC’s Seinfeld, “Serenity Now!”