Sunday, July 25, 2010

Last Night I Didn't Win The Lottery

Every morning I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I'm not there, I go to work. Robert Orben

I'm not much of a gambler by nature.  I've never been able to understand it logically.  I don't buy raffle tickets.  I don't do those "silent auction" things.  Maybe as a math teacher I just can't justify spending money on something that has such bad odds.  Whatever it is, I don't like to spend money just to get nothing in 
return.  But I must admit, every once in a while I buy a lottery ticket.

 I do it about 3 or 4 times a year.  I figure if I'm willing to spend $1.75 on a cup of coffee once a week that gives me nothing in return except for a trip to the bathroom an hour later, I might as well waste $1 on a lottery ticket a few times a year.  Worst case scenario I can always use it for toilet paper when I have to go to the bathroom as a result of the coffee I drank.  So yesterday morning was one of those dollar wasting days.  I bought a Maine State Lottery Mega Millions ticket.

It wasn't a winner.

Nevertheless it set me to thinking...
Years ago my husband used to work in a convenience store.  People would come into the store on a regular basis and drop as much as $20 or $30 a day on lottery tickets.  And they wouldn't blink an eye doing it.  Then on top of that they would spend that much or more buying cigarettes and beer.

Now of course anyone is free to spend his/her money any way he/she sees fit.  However a lot of the people who buy lottery tickets are senior citizens who are part of a segment of the population that tries to convince me that they have life so tough because they live on a "fixed income" or "limited income".  (As an aside, I consider that one of the most absurd things I've ever heard.  For the record my income is "limited" too.)  I've also seen single moms buying lottery tickets, cigarettes and alcohol.  As a college teacher I met a lot of young single moms.  And while I can't speak for all single moms, I know for a fact that many of the ones I met qualified for a great deal of government aid and free education.  Where are they getting the money for lottery tickets, cigarettes and alcohol?

I could go on and on.  But I'll stop because otherwise I'll just get rude.

So next time I need clothes, or my husband or my kids need clothes, I'll make my way over to the Salvation Army thrift store.
  Next time I need a new couch, I'll wait for big item garbage day and drive around the nice neighborhoods and see what people are throwing out.  (It's amazing how nicely you can furnish a house from the "garbage" people throw out on big item day.)  If I see anything good, maybe my neighbor will let me borrow his pick up truck.  If I happen to be in a mood to really splurge, I'll head on over to Marden's Surplus and Salvage Store and see what shipments they've gotten in lately.

I wonder if I'll run into any senior citizens or single moms?  Or will they all be at the mall?  And then when they're done shopping at Macy's, I wonder if they will they stop off at the convenience store on the way home to buy their lottery tickets, cigarettes and alcohol?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Why Writing Made Me Weary

It has been a long time since I've posted to my blog.  A few people have commented to me that they have noticed that it has been quiet for a long time.  A couple of others commented that they always enjoyed reading my posts when I would update.  So here is a post to those of you who have been wondering where I am.

I'm still here.  I'm just not writing.

When I was writing blog posts, as with everything in my life, I put a lot of work into my posts.  I would put a lot of thought into what I said.  I would take care to make sure that I checked spelling and grammar.  I would review, revise, rewrite, reconsider, review, revise, rewrite, reconsider...

 I would go back over my work many times to make sure that I was clearly and sensibly conveying my thoughts.  I would try to be sure that the thoughts were being presented in such a way that it would make sense to the reader and that he would understand where I was going whether or not he agreed with me.  I would spend hours working on a post that would take only a few minutes to read.

After a while I realized that I was putting as much work, if not more, into my blog posts as I used to put into my college papers many years ago.  I realized that I was putting as much work into my blog posts as I would put into professional email communication when it was required of me.

I realized that my blog posts had become work.  But more than that, they had become work for which I was not being compensated in any way.

Now compensation does not have to be financial by any means.  But when work and effort is given to a task there should be some sort of compensation.  What that compensation is may mean something different to each individual.  Compensation occurs in all kinds of ways, and how satisfying it is depends entirely upon the person receiving the compensation.  Therefore there is no particular formula for a person putting effort into writing to be compensated.  To me, writing is similar to a relationship.  You determine whether or not you are getting a return on your investment, and then based on that, you continue or you don't.

Obviously, I've been in "don't" mode.

Sometimes I write simply because I want to.  Other times I write because I have to.  Writing can be a means of communication, a source of personal enjoyment, a catharsis, a creative outlet, a job... The list goes on and on.  Obviously blogging is not my job.  Therefore it would have to fall into the category of something that I do for enjoyment.  Instead I found that expressing my thoughts, no matter the subject area, had become work for me.  Furthermore, I found it to be wearying.  So it's been quiet here lately at Eclectic Gallimaufry.

Life consists of a great amount of work.  I have a husband and three young children.  That is a full time job.  I have a home that I take care of, home repair projects that I work on with my husband and gardens that I tend in the summer.  That is another full time job.
  I cook all my own meals and I clean my own house.  That is another full time job.  I also work part time outside the home.  Right now I don't want any more jobs, particularly ones that do not come with any type of compensation.  So when I found that writing had become a non-compensated job for me, I quit.

As with everything in life, a story is always much longer and more involved than would appear on the surface.  And so it is with my not wanting to write.  The short version is that I don't have the heart for it at the moment.  I don't want to give it the energy that it requires of me.  The long version, that likely will never be told, is the one that, if I were writing, would talk about why my heart and energy is gone from any kind of writing.  But that is a post for a writer.  And at the moment that isn't me.

I'll be back.  At least that's my plan.  And it's always good to have a plan, even if for no other reason but to throw it all out the window and do something different so that you can feel spontaneous.

Meanwhile, for a 140 character update of my life on a regular basis, you can find me on Twitter at @Fish1of5.  Visit me there.