Beneath the Surface – the Past always Catches Up with you

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Bill Cosby’s arraignment for “aggravated indecent assault” i.e. multiple rapes and alleged rapes has shocked the nation; especially his long-time fans and admirers.

Cosby represented the all-American family and basic goodness. He made us laugh. He made us smile at our own foibles in parenting.

His story reminds me of a similar one about a former cop who got arrested for child porn and spousal abuse.  Known for protecting others, he couldn’t protect his own or himself.

And what about the neighbor’s husband who ends up in the headlines, after his death, for his reputation as a pervert and philanderer. When the grieving wife settled his affairs, she discovered letters and other evidence of his misdeeds in his desk; confirming what she suspected, but could not prove. She continued to find the tell-tale signs of his indiscretions long after he was gone.

The past always catches up with you. Some people manage to keep the surface of their lives smooth and unfettered, but deep within is a raging sea. What triggers these unexplained blips that appear in an otherwise normal existence?  Is it a controlling environment and too much stress? Or simply a need to indulge a secret and a hidden piece of life that no one else has access to?

My husband and I share an office which I’m discovering is a big mistake. He sits right behind me. While I’m trying to create, he reads his emails and laughs out loud. At other times, he shares his mail or what’s off the top of his head. When my children were young, I learned to continue regardless of the interruptions or noise. But as I’ve grown older, I’m finding the ability to focus is more difficult.

I usually head for my desk when I wish to write or catch up with things. To do this requires concentration and imagination. My husband follows me like a puppy dog into the office. I should feel flattered that he likes my companionship, but my irritation sometimes boils over in unflattering ways.

I go to the office when I want a moment of communion with my higher force and muse. The other day I listened to some Christmas music from “Child of the promise” a musical production written and arranged by Michael & Stormie Omartian in the year 2000.

The solos by Elizabeth and Mary fill me with joy and allow me to worship in a way that is only possible with music. Of course, that brought protests from my husband, who looked upon it as an intrusion  into his space, even though I was there first to be alone. He views the office as his and his alone.

God gifted me as a writer and an artist. So why then did I have a large family and demanding spouses?  Alone time has always been rare and difficult to find.

I had friends who were writers that found a means to create. One put a hair dryer on her head and concocted stories in a whirl of white noise? Another friend locked herself in the bathroom so she could think and pound out her thoughts without being disturbed.

I used to create on my daily walks. My husband would jog ahead and I’d commune with nature and create subject matter. Sometimes I’d use this time to pray and converse with my higher power and muse. Now he no longer jogs, but walks beside me, usually expounding upon some political angst or philosophy. He uses me as his sounding board and silent companion. I end up feeling frustrated for lack of two-way conversation or the “space” I so desperately need.

Sometimes I lose my cool. And sometimes he does, too. When you’re with someone 24/7 you have to make space in order to survive. If you can relate, be sure to define the times and places where you need a quiet spot for down time. If you fail to do this, don’t be surprised if you end up in a screaming match wondering what just happened.

What can’t you Buy on the Internet?

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"Lady Luck" 11 x 14 in box frame

“Lady Luck” 11 x 14 in box frame

You can find almost anything on Amazon.com from their mainstay books to clothing and furniture items. If you want it, you can find it on the Internet. E-Bay still holds sway for many who want cut-rate prices and a chance to bid on rare or longed-for items. Bargains are what it’s all about.

I sell on Etsy and find that buyers are comparing prices to find the quality they want at the lowest cost. I get several inquiries before an order lands. Sometimes I offer free shipping in order to beat the competition, but then the profit margin is slim.

Popeye trinket dish

Popeye trinket dish

Mainstream book stores such as Borders, Barnes and Noble and Best Buy have been added to a long list of closings that have either happened in some locations or are about too. There is an alphabet soup of sad failures affected not only by the economy, but by internet buying habits.

Here are a few more: Aldi, Big Lots, Blockbuster, Bloomingdales, Best Buy, Bath and Body Works, Coldwater Creek, Dillard’s, Hallmark, the Gap, Kirkland’s, J.C. Penney, J. Crew, Hooters, JoAnn Fabrics and this only takes us to the letter “F.” There are many more companies going broke from A-Z.

What is behind this phenomenon? For one thing, people have less time. A friend of mine needed a small light bulb for an overhead projector. He went to several Office Supply stores and hardware stores in the area to find this size specific light. When he came back empty handed after having spent two hours and a sizable amount of gas, he searched online. Voila! He ordered three bulbs at $5 each and then paid an additional $18 in shipping just to get them here before his scheduled event. In today’s world, time is money.

As an artist, I’ve had difficulty getting the brands of acrylic and oil paints I want from the usual hobby stores here in town. I always find what I want online and with more colors and choices. My order arrives within a week, and the cost is either the same as locally or cheaper.

Olive Oyl hand puppet

Olive Oyl hand puppet

When I shop, I have a clear image in mind of what I want and need. I dislike store hopping which may consume large chunks of time I don’t have. I can go online and search for exactly what I want and find it in a matter of minutes.

The rate of book store closings is alarming. Again, I can download a book to my Kindle without leaving home. I can even do it from work. How easy is that? Even Libraries have learned how to adapt to the changing market. Their big draw is that their items are FREE. The drawback is you still have to return most of what you borrow and they still charge overdue fees.

While dining at a restaurant, I admired the pearl tie that our waitress was wearing. “Where’d you get that lovely necklace,” I asked?

“On the internet,” she replied with a smirk, “for only $7.99, plus shipping.”

There’s the catch! Sometimes the shipping may cost more than the item you purchase. The profit has to be built in somewhere, and shipping and “handling,” is one way. Handling includes the cost of the packaging, gas to take it where it can be mailed, and any other costs the manufacturer wants to attach to it. We are willing to pay for it because the item is cheap, and we want our purchase in a hurry.

The internet has opened up a new world of things to choose from. We no longer have to settle for what’s on sale or the usual end-of-season junk. We can click on “Search” and find exactly what we want at a price we can afford.

Popeye - Olive Oyl salt 'n pepper shakers

Popeye – Olive Oyl salt ‘n pepper shakers

What will happen to retail stores that must stock a huge inventory in order to compete? They will either find a way to adjust to the new market or go under. Most stores have online sites where customers may browse and purchase what they are familiar with. A sizable portion of sales comes from this source, especially during the holidays.

There’s a lesson to be learned for all of us. In a changing world, we need to adapt to the fluid market if we’re going to stay in business. In our personal lives, we also need to go with the flow of changing rhythms and trends if we’re to stay afloat. Otherwise, we may end up on that alphabetized list of failing businesses and fractured families.