Archive for ‘Bittersweet’

July 4, 2016

Change of Address

by Janie Jones

Well, blogosphere. Here it is.

As my loyal blog friends know, the free blog site hosted by WordPress.com has just changed too much.  And, as I’ve been threatening to do, I moved.

*Queue melodramatic soundtrack*

It has been a time of great trial and tribulation.  First I sought a different free blog site provider.  And I absolutely love using blog.com, when it works. I especially love the look I can get with the customization tools. Unfortunately, I just have too many problems with my visitors not being able to access this site.

So, I have made the difficult decision to move, again. If you have been trying to follow me at my blog.com site or hoping I’d re-appear here, please look for me at my new blog home. Just think of it as Janie 3.0.

http://janiejonesgreatwhitenorth.net/

I will continue to monitor this site for a little while in case visitors have trouble accessing me at my new digs.  Please let me know if you can’t find me, either by commenting here or by email at janiejones.greatwhitenorth@gmail.com.

Thanks for all the years of support and friendship!

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August 19, 2015

Pride, Responsibility and Integrity

by Janie Jones

I’m feeling a little unsettled today.

I got an email from someone at Stickittoyou U yesterday.  Apparently they want to interview me about my scholarships and grants.

This year I’m getting in excess of $14,000 of “free” money, meaning I don’t have to pay it back, for tuition and school related expenses.  Most are need-based, but some are merit based and have minimum GPA requirements.  These funds will cover about 90% of my tuition, books and fees.

Yes, it rocks.  Yes, I’m extremely grateful.  Yes, I do feel honored and lucky.  And yes, I’ve worked very hard to get the best grades I can to be worthy and have applied for up to 50 some scholarships for this year.  But, there is a part of me that is also very embarrassed and ashamed to not be able to support myself and my daughter without all this need based funding.

It feels very much like being interviewed and having my story pasted all over the school homepage and “other uses” is trying to make me seem like someone of distinction to be honored and looked up to when I have done nothing but find myself too poor to make my own way in the world and too under-educated to get the good paying jobs (ie, more than minimum wage) that would allow me to live an average middle class life I was accustomed to before “life” happened.

Sure, everyone needs a hand up once and a while and people and organizations who give out scholarship and grant money are trying to acknowledge and help us who are less fortunate better ourselves.  But, it seems to me if you have a proper sense of pride, self respect and integrity you should be celebrating the donors, not the people who have done nothing but accept their generosity.

While many people fail to see my side of this issue, awards ceremonies and interviews just drive home my shame in being unable to provide for myself.  It feels like celebrating my failure.  I have done nothing to deserve to be celebrated, yet.  Everyone, in my opinion should strive to better themselves, what I’m doing is not special, or unique.  It should be normal, average, and expected.

So, I do thank the donors.  It allows me to do what I have to in order to be a better person and one day again be able to provide for myself and my family.  But I’m not there yet.  Currently I’m a hot mess of stress, frustration, panic, fear, longing, exhaustion, and insecurity.  It’s too soon to see beyond the struggle.  I am grateful for the help but it’s way too soon to see anything in my situation for praise or admiration and I don’t want to be an object of pity either.

I just want to say a heartfelt thank you and go about my business.  Why is that so weird to the world?

July 27, 2015

Happy Anniversary to me!

by Janie Jones

anniversary 5 yrsIt’s the 5th Anniversary of Janie’s Place today!  Hurray!

Wow.  A lot happens in five years.

I went and looked back to the beginning.  To a time when I had struggles and frustrations, but was generally happy.  I had a beautiful affordable home to live in, a solid relationship, free time, and while not filthy rich by any means, I had some money.

I look how I’m now living, and I can’t help but develop a new worry:  What if when I finally finish school I still can’t get a good paying job?

May 14, 2015

Thursday Quote Du Jour: A stiff drink is in order, anyone got any vodka?

by Janie Jones

I believe that if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade… And try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka, and have a party.

-Ron White
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_funny.html#DVvEbRYbu2vOYWDA.99

The semester is finally 100% over.  My last final was yesterday.  Ahhhh.  The freedom.  I think this calls for a celebratory drink.  You bring the vodka, I’ve got the lemons.  Oh, yes, have I got lemons.

Did I mention summer school starts Monday?

November 28, 2014

Flashback Friday: Let Emerson eat cake

by Janie Jones

Monday I was writing about change and how it can be a double-edged sword.  I might have made Emerson roll over in his grave as I abused his thoughts, but at the same time I seem to recall his point was to be true to yourself and not blindly go with the flow.  He wanted to urge people to break with the consensus if that consensus was for something detrimental, if the popular wisdom was leading you astray.   Do the masses tend to understand what it is anymore to be true to yourself? Do we as a society ever stop and question what is really right and good and necessary anymore?

I might have implied that we are drowning in a new sea of wild and pointless change for the advancement of Progress for the pure sake of Progress.  But, change in the name of Progress isn’t a new problem and doesn’t just afflict our 21st century technology driven life.  The world of Progress has rocked and changed other generations, too.

And, while some changes have brought wonderful things that do enhance our lives, with every step forward something is left behind.  Who stops to ask if what we exchange is worth it?

I don’t talk much about my family here anymore, but, there is one memory indelibly etched in my brain with the clarity of something that happened just yesterday.  It captures a moment in time which literally shaped the way I would see the world for ever more.  I was a tween, and I was eating birthday cake at my paternal grandmother’s house.  It was the best cake I had ever eaten.  And I asked my grandmother what kind of cake it was, hoping I could persuade my mother to buy that brand.  The response I got blew my mind.

“Oh, well, I’m sorry, but I forgot to buy a box of cake mix at the store yesterday, so I had to just whip this up from scratch.  I am sorry it’s not as good as the store kind.”

Two thoughts fought for prominence in my mind:

1.  How the heck does someone just “whip up” a cake that delicious as a last minute thing and

2.  Why in the world was she apologizing?!?

But my paternal grandmother grew up in the depression, apparently poor as dirt.  When modern conveniences rolled out things like box mixes for cakes and other foods, the fact that they saved the housewife time, and were more costly, had to make them better than the old fashioned, poor people’s home cooking.  All these years later, when the masses had forgotten how delicious unprocessed food was, she was still able to cook rings around Duncan Hines and Pillsbury, but she was apologizing for it because people of wealth and consequence didn’t inflict home cooking on their families.

This was also the woman who would wash tinfoil in the dishwasher because it was too expensive to just throw away.

But quirks aside, this insight into the mind of a different generation does show how sometimes seemingly innocent changes which make life appear easier, better, and more convenient can actually diminish a valuable trait in our society.  Ever since that day, I have endeavored to make from scratch instead of buying store bought anything when ever possible.  I don’t know why, but that one simple conversation taught me the value of being able to cook and impressed upon me how it is something of a dying art.

Convenience foods certainly have their place, and can be useful.  But to claim they are better and more valuable than home cooking is a crime and a travesty.  Undoubtedly in part due to this backward change in societal values and probably because of their prevalence, as a generation we have lost a valuable skill.  How many people today can just whip up a cake, or a homemade soup, or gravy?  All are staples a pre-WWII era housewife could make in her sleep.  Heck, girls younger than I was at the time used to do these things every day as automatically as breathing.  It is a sad, sad testament to the times that I know a whole physics class of teens and twenty-somethings today who don’t even know how to boil an egg.

So, the important lesson I like to take from this memory is to never, ever devalue a good made from scratch chocolate cake.

But, seriously, in order for life to go on, I recognize change is inevitable.  However, I hope that people start to see that we can and need to choose to hold on to the simple, better things in life instead of letting the grand, sweeping scope of Progress swallow up, obliterate and bury them in the past.  There are skills we need to keep alive and part of our core of knowledge, even if they seem old fashioned, even if Technology and Progress tells us there’s a faster, more efficient, greener way.  Somethings just can’t be improved on by modern convenience, technology or innovation.  We shouldn’t let innovation make us apologize for being able to do things by hand, for upholding traditions and customs, and for valuing simplicity.

Anyone else have a taste for cake?

 

July 9, 2014

And once again I’m reminded of just how much it sucks to be totally, completely broke

by Janie Jones

I’ve been much too depressed to blog lately.  Mostly because I can’t think of anything to say that doesn’t sound like a complaint.  Unfortunately, I don’t mean to complain, it’s just everything is so crappy right now, that the simple facts sound horrid.  Well, they don’t just sound horrid, they really are.

Out on the farm we have not been able to take showers now for 6 weeks.  We take “pioneer showers” where we wash out of buckets.  Just this weekend we upgraded from having to draw the hot water for bathing and dishes directly off the hot water heater and carry buckets of hot water up from the basement to a single hot tap in the kitchen.  For about the last 5 weeks we have had no water in the bathroom, now we at least have one cold tap in the bathroom.  However, to flush the toilet we need to manually fill the toilet tank with a hose run through the back door from a garden spigot.  If we weren’t drop dead broke we could have had showers about 3 weeks ago, but there was simply no money to pay a plumber to fix all that’s wrong with the plumbing.  Leif is slowly fixing it on his own.

The bugs are so thick here that even sitting indoors you get eaten alive by mosquitoes and we’ve all been moonlighting as tick buffets.  I was lucky enough to contract Lyme Disease and have just finished 3 weeks of antibiotic treatment.

I have two weeks of summer school left, but luckily the on campus component is over so I no longer have to drive an hour and twenty minutes each way twice a week to class.  It is doubly lucky because the gov’mnet in their infinite wisdom decided that I no longer can be eligible for food stamps.  Not like I liked having to use them in the first place, but it did at least save me from having to stretch my nickel sized budget to cover a dime’s worth of bills.  The silver lining here then is when my food stamps got canceled I no longer had to drive so the gas money could be converted to food money saving me from having to make the choice of going to class or eating.

I managed to get probably 90% of the stench of weasel and chipmunk shit out of the laundry room, but when it’s really damp it still smells of mold, mildew, animal excrement, and a faint odor of cigarette smoke lingers in the rooms we haven’t pulled the carpet out of yet.  There is still a hole in the laundry room floor, but at least I don’t have to breathe in weasel stench to do laundry.  And, we finally got both the washer and dryer running, just the washer only runs on cold, and that, can you guess? has to be brought in via garden hose through the back door.

I’m still living out of boxes because 1.  we’ve run out of places to put our things 2.  I’ve run out of caring anymore.

So, without boring you with anymore of the minutiae of life since being exiled to the country, I’m struggling to find any happiness, or even any bit of hope, these days.

Poor Leif, now he’s gone and broke my heart and added a new layer of misery to my broke-ass existence.  What evil is this you might ask?  Today we escaped the farm to go grocery shopping and conduct some business in town.  Leif has been wanting another young dog to play with Vera and so he’s popped into the shelter a time or two to see if he could find a dog to adopt.  Today he says, “Would you like to stop at the shelter and see what they’ve got today?”  And like an idiot I said, “Sure, I’d like to see the animals.”  Can you guess where this is going?

Well, apparently on one of his previous visits he saw a middle aged beagle and thought  it would be a perfect dog for me and more sedate buddy for Rupert.  The beagle was still there, and Leif was right.  It was love at first sight for me.  He was well mannered and absolutely adorable.  He was found as a stray so he didn’t know his shelter name, but he knew sit and did the prettiest beg you’ve ever seen.  The shelter wanted a $275 adoption fee, and that’s when my heart broke.  I don’t have $275 and I had to leave the poor guy at the shelter.  But the whole way home I kept thinking about him.  Leif liked him too and said maybe it would be something for me to work for and cheer me up, but unfortunately it’s had the opposite effect.  I’m even more sad now than I was before.  See, there’s no way I’ll ever be able to adopt that darling four legged little guy.  It’s not just a matter of starting the “Bring the Beagle Home Fund” and putting aside some money next time I get paid.  I don’t have a job and won’t have any more income until I either get one or until I’m again eligible for financial aid in September.  By then my beloved beagle will likely have a new home, or worse yet continue to spend week after week in a shelter on a hard concrete floor enclosed by chain link walls.   Either way, it’s depressing to think about.

*Sigh*  If I wasn’t dead broke I could now be gleefully posting adorable photos of me and Rupert with “Bingley,” what Leif suggested I name the new guy.  You know, that name would suit him perfectly.

 

 

 

June 17, 2014

Well, that’s some good news at least

by Janie Jones

I just got word I was awarded a scholarship for Stickittoyou University.  It’s not a lot, but it will cover about a quarter to a third of my tuition.

Now if only I could win a scholarship or award that would pay for my housing….

Still one must be grateful for the little things, especially when they are all you’ve got.