Monday, January 12, 2009

picking up sticks

I was going to title this post "do the right thing."

Then as my thoughts came together, and the morning's events transpired, I was going to call it "if it's not broke don't fix it, but if it is, please get busy!"

Then I read Kate's post over at Momopoly, and I started to cry.

I'm having a rough morning.

I'm carrying a cross, and it's a light one. I call this kind a toothpick cross. It's so tiny that when you look at me, you probably won't even notice I'm lugging it around. But like a toothpick in a pile of toothpicks, it can be hard to pick up. And it can be very draining when it seems you're picking up this same one again and again.

Things are falling apart around here, and I mean that literally. On Saturday I was in a car accident. Don't worry, no one was injured, which is all that really matters. But my van is smashed up and in need of repair, and I spent the morning on the phone with the husband of the gal who hit me and with insurance agents.

That leads to the "do the right thing" angle. It was snowy Saturday, dangerously so. The roads were horrible, and I really had no business being out. But I had a rehearsal to get to (don't worry, I'll fill you in on the show soon!) so I ventured out. When that other car came careening through the intersection I was in the middle of, there was really no stopping it. She had hit a slippery spot, and she was driving too fast. I saw her coming, tried to accelerate, but my wheels spun and she hit me, sending me spinning 180 degrees.

When I got out of my van and saw the other driver, I was relieved. She was OK, so was I, and even better, it was someone I knew! We had gone to high school together and her husband and mine had played in the same softball league in recent years. That would make things easier.

We assured one another we were fine, found both our vehicles to be driveable, and decided no call to the police was necessary. We both knew it was her fault, but I figured I'd spare her the ticket and the points that may accompany it. (I knew this might happen - a good friend of mine was in a similar accident last winter and that's what happened to her.)

I decided to be nice.

This morning her husband called and said he was going to try to "fix things" with his insurance agent who also happened to be the best man at his wedding. He explained he planned to simply say the vehicle was parked on the street and was struck by some unknown car.

Oh no.

I don't do well with this sort of thing. I had no intention of participating in insurance fraud (and why should I? I had nothing to gain and something - the payment of my deductible - to lose.) I told him I was not comfortable with that idea, and that I planned to do something wild and just tell the truth.

He handled that pretty well, I guess, but he said he wanted me to wait before I called my company. I stupidly agreed, then realized after I hung up that I had no intention of doing that. I called him back and left a message on his voice mail telling him I was going to make the claim. So I did and now I'm waiting to see what happens.

It appears that if they call with a different story, I might be out the $500 deductible.

That stinks. That's the price I've paid for "being nice." I suppose the lesson is that sometimes "doing the right thing" includes following protocol that protects me rather than trying to be nice to someone else.

That's just the beginning of my toothpick collection today. The dishwasher's broke. My blow dryer shot sparks at me this morning. Last week my microwave broke, so I threw it out and got a new one. Today I found out it was covered on a repair plan and if I had called I would've received a check for $125 if they couldn't fix it.

My lap top is malfunctioning, randoming shutting itself off. The kitchen drawer fell apart the other day. The lightswitch in the bathroom wants to permanently stay in the "on" position.

My home is falling apart, and I'm frustrated, angry and sad.

The condition of my house is a really heavy cross to me. We redid the living room and my room this past year, and they are quite attractive right now. But I'd be lying if I said I was content here.

It's a "starter home" at best, and we're way past getting started. We will probably never be able to move to a larger home, and that is something I just have never been able to get over.

We have three bedrooms, no basement, only 1300 square feet. The house is not ancient, but it's no spring chicken, either. We use our family room for so many purposes; now Sophie stays in that room too, and it's insane. I don't know how we do it.

But we do. I pick up the toothpick every day, and it's exhausting sometimes. Like Kate said, people might look at me and think how great I have it. (Especially people who've never been to my house!) They look at all the blessings in my life (and there are indeed many) and they don't even know how much I suffer because of my inadequate kitchen cupboards, damaged tiles and stuffed closets.

I feel ashamed that I whine about this. But for some reason, this cross seems almost unbearable at times. I imagine that's because I've had it for years, and I don't imagine it will ever be lifted from me.

So today it's messed-up, screwed-up, broken around here. And it probably will be tomorrow, too. So I'll do my best to hang in there and not break anything else -- especially my spirit.


Rachel LaPointe said...

As weird as this may sound, Mom, but I really can't wait to ditch some of my crosses (like my financial ones) and pick up some little crosses like that. Yeah, you can have meltdowns about it (I know how hard it is for you) but to me, that's the cross I want to pick up! How weird is that?

(PS, maybe some frugal shopping therapy is in order. Not that we have tons of money to spend, but a sweet deal never hurt anyone!)

Kate Wicker said...

Oh, Cathy. This is so beautifully honest. I struggle with this all of the time. I feel guilty because I don't have a bigger cross (I compare my own crosses for goodness' sake!). But the small daily crosses can be a lot to shoulder. I thought it was so beautiful how you commented on my blog that you're not sure if Celeste's death was your toughest cross to carry, that these smaller, daily crosses can zap their share of your strength.

Your honesty always touches me. Thank you.

I'm thankful no one was hurt in the car accident.

I think you and Rachel should definitely go shopping together. :)


Soul Pockets said...

I am so happy you were not hurt! I hope this accident thing works out for you.

I had tears in my eyes reading this post and as I type this comment. I too have so many small crosses and feel guilty about them. My kitchen is falling apart too. I also live in a three bedroom house with soon to be 5 kids. My room is in a dungy basement and I am pissed off (excuse the word) that the new baby's room will be in the living room until I can find a place for him/her.
All these things if you let them add up will break your spirit.
But I know you know better, I know better too.

I don't have any great advice except when you see your little loving house, your broken kitchen, your overstuffed closets and you want to scream, shut your eyes and thank God for giving you the opportunity to know what less than means, only than can you fully appreciate what blessings mean.

I feel kind of sorry for people who have it all, people who receive a well meant gift and just put it on the shelf with the 100 other gifts they already have.

I really don't know what to say, but I think you are an awesome person and I will be thinking about you today.

Anonymous said...

Thank God no one was injured. But telling the truth is the right thing to do. You would never be able to forgive yourself if you went along with the little white lie.

I completely relate to your post and all your little crosses. I feel as if you were writing about my life in some funny way when you wrote about your home.

We live in a very old home (built in 1920). It is far from perfect and could be improved upon in many ways, but it is what it is. It's cute, but there are so many things we need to update or finish from a past remodel. We even have a basement way out here in sunny California. It's probably the best "surprise" feature about it. And it's been in my husband's family since it was built, as well as the ranch it sits on.

I like to complain about how we can improve the home. We have stuffed closets too, or shall I say lack of closet/storage space. People just didn't have lots of things to put in closets back in the 20's. Storage is a major issue here. Clutter is my bitter enemy and I don't know how to tackle it other than get rid of everything and be a minimalist.

So, like you, I'm picking up sticks every day. But when I start to feel like I want to scream and punch holes in the unfinished walls of our basement bathroom I take a minute to remind myself that while I'm having a tiff about that there are people living in a car or on the street who would probably be grateful to even live in that unfinished bathroom - atleast the toilet is hooked up and works!

I tell myself, things can be worse, often. And it's true. I have a home, nice things in my home and a safe place for my family. Unfortunately, many only dream of that. Life is not perfect - even though I wish it were!

Thanks for being so open and honest about your feelings. It made me feel like I am not alone when it comes to things I have no control over (atleast at the moment).

Kim H. said...


Thank God no one was hurt. And as sucky as it is to have to shell out your $500 deductible, be glad your deductible isn't $1000 - or better yet, that you have insurance. And I know, that might not make you feel better, cause dagnabbit we all need a little pity party sometimes - and it's good to let it out, but know this will pass. Honesty is totally the way to go and you know your reward will be of the eternal kind.

And I know the little things that wear on each of us can seem like such ridiculous little crosses, but sometimes those little things pile up and seem so heavy. Honey, we've all been there. I feel like I'm there every day I wait and wonder when will my house sell? Will those people come back? Will they low-ball us? Ugh, I just have to keep remembering to turn it over - but doggonit, the imperfect human that I am wants to control MY universe.

Funny thing about your house. My parents raised 7 of us in a 3 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath home. They still live in that home. For years, it was beaten up and worn down. But my Mom was able to stay home with us kids. Of course as a kid I didn't get that, but now I do. They made many, many sacrifices for our family so they could live DEBT free, put us in good Catholic schools, heck, just clothe us and feed us.

That meant the house got put on the back burner. But you know, now they're getting around to working on it. They have more disposable income now that most of us are adults living on our own. Little by little, my Mom is making it the home she always wanted.

And here I sit in this house - which is lovely and big and more than I'd like to clean - and the mortgage is ridiculous and I'd just like to simplify. I'd love something smaller, less pretentious may be. I've actually come to realize that we could do with a lot less - may be still have nicer finishes, but really, a nice, big house isn't all that it's cracked up to be.

Really, it's what's inside the house that makes the home. It doesn't matter the size, or the cheesy wallpaper or dirty carpet, it's the love and willingness to say 'yes' to God that matters. And I know you know that.

So hang in there honey. The winter dulldrums are especially rough. May be just plan to tackle one little thing each day - even if it's just cleaning out a junk drawer or putting together a bag of stuff for goodwill or picking up a couple rubbermaids and sorting out some household stuff - or even brighten up a space with a can of paint. Paint is cheap. Some good ole fashioned elbow grease goes a long way. You'll get there. Little by little.

You know I'm rooting for you!

Lerin said...

Thank you for visiting my blog and the compliment on my children's names. :) We work pretty hard on picking those out. :) It is very, very nice to meet you.

I respect you for doing the right thing, and I am sorry that trying to spare someone a traffic ticket may end up costing you more than you bargained for. I am just so thankful you are okay.

Bia said...

"I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind.
Some come from ahead and some come from behind.
But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see.
Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!"
Dr. Seuss

I thought you could use a laugh...

Laura said...

This sounds pretty heavy to me.
I think the car accident situation could happen to most of us because we assume that people are going to do the right thing. Good for you for keeping a pure heart and not thinking that everyone is tainted with dishonesty. Too bad in this case the person is. But most people ARE good and you know that.

I pray that your heavy heart will be lifted. ( I just said a Hail Mary for you.)

momto5minnies said...

(((HUGS)))) ... I am so sorry about your week. I too know about those sticks piling up (sigh).

I wish I could invite you to dinner, dessert and drinks at my house ;) ... we could indulge in some comfort together.

Christine said...

Sorry to hear about your week. I had a hard week also. I am also thankful for blogger friends. They really touched my heart.