Thursday, September 27, 2012

I've Still Got a Couple Years Left in Me

So when does a person start feeling old? I mean mentally? It's not hard to notice the effects of aging in a physical sense (like every time I stand up after sitting for a while and have to give my right knee a moment to catch up), but I feel just as young -- if a little more wise -- as I did when I was...well...young.

Last night, it was my turn to hang out with the young single adults in our stake (the kids who are 18 - 30 years old and not married) and play volleyball. The only other woman my age who was there was one of the young single adult advisers. Her name is Renee, and she's petite and fun and has no problem fitting right in with the younger crowd despite the fact that a couple of her kids are in the young singles category, or maybe because of it. She brings great snacks, she knows all the kids by name, and she teases them like they tease her.

While I didn't walk in feeling as awkward as I would have had I been younger (yay! a benefit of age!), I still got the feeling those kids look at me as a sort of oddity, a reminder that youth eventually dies and the glorious dreams of the young morph into the reality of trying to live a good, if somewhat obscure, life.

Or maybe they don't think that. Maybe they just don't know my name and are curious about why I crashed their party.

I set my stuff down and watched the games going on for a moment, but when I realized one team was short a player, I kicked off my shoes and joined in. And I had a blast! With Renee shouting out hilarious advice and playing her hardest, everyone relaxed and had a good time. It helps that I'm not terrible at volleyball, as well. Yeah, this old girl with her bum knee and extra jiggle did manage to make some dang good plays, if I do say so myself; and though I'm not as outgoing and bubbly as Renee, I got to know the kids around me a bit. We laughed and joked, and I saw them begin to accept me not as a chaperone-type person but just as a person.

If I could go back to my youthful body and keep my hard-earned knowledge, I'd do it in a heartbeat. But if the choice was to be young again while forgetting everything I've lived, I'll keep my creakier body and my decades. I don't feel old. I'm still surprised I'm going to hit 41 in a month, and, really, age and youth are all relative. When I'm 80, 41 will seem pretty spry and bouncy, and I'm sure at 80 I'll still feel excited by all the stuff I don't know yet that's just waiting to be discovered. And when I'm 80, I'll be offended that my younger self thought being 80 was so old.

Meanwhile, I may just show up to play volleyball next week, even if it's technically not my turn. We old people somehow never manage to organize volleyball games for ourselves. I haven't slept that well in ages.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It Only Took Four Years to Figure This Out

Last week, I decided something needed to change. Since Husband and I had had that conversation about being more organized, I really have been trying, but I still can't force my brain to fully cooperate within the prescribed hours of official writing time. Frustration.

It did dawn on me one day, however, that I always do better after allowing myself a completely guilt-free break from writing for a day (a day that is not Sunday. I never do writing work on Sundays, but I am plenty busy with a multitude of church meetings), so I concocted a clever plan: I write every other day. On writing days, I do nothing else but write. I do not stress over anything else, including housework. On non-writing days, I do not stress about writing in any way (except for checking to see if any plumb assignments are up for grabs so that I can do them the next day).

I don't know why I didn't think of that earlier. I remember one semester in college when I crammed all my classes into three days and then had Tuesdays and Thursdays to mentally de-stress and get homework done. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday were long, long days, but I always knew that the next day I could take a bit of a break. The kind of writing I do is extremely mentally fatiguing, and dreading the dawn of yet another day when I have to sit in front of the computer cranking out well-crafted articles and websites only hinders my thinking powers (which are already somewhat limited due to my chronic sleep deprivation). Knowing that the next day is a break helps me focus and concentrate with good will.

So far, it's been working really well. I am far more productive on writing days because that's all I worry about. Plus, I know that tomorrow morning I can plan out any activities I want to do without being chained to the computer. Spend a morning washing dishes while listening to talk radio? I can do that! Successfully complete 30 loads of laundry? Ready! Wile away an hour at the library? Acceptable! The end result is that I actually finish more paid work in three days of focused writing than in five days of scattered and stressful attempts to get everything done.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bankruptcy Court

I went to bankruptcy court a few weeks ago -- not for myself, but because I was accompanying a friend who didn't want to go by herself and who needed a ride. Having written numerous websites for bankruptcy lawyers, it was interesting to finally see the process in action. Since the beginning, I've been the liason between my friend and her lawyer, running paperwork back and forth, helping her fill in the mountains of information her lawyer needed in order to successfully file on her behalf, and finally watching the finale of the long and stressful journey. I feel I can write with far more knowledge and depth on the subject. How ironic I haven't picked up any bankruptcy lawyer websites lately. Personal injury, Social Security Disability and Workers' Comp, and divorce lawyers, yes. But it's been a while for bankruptcy.

If you've never been to bankruptcy court, I'll tell you all about it. After we finally located the correct building in The Big City's downtown area, we entered a room decorated in what I like to call Government Bleah: gray carpet, white walls, florescent lighting, gray waiting room chairs, official posters in both English and Spanish hanging on the know exactly what I'm talking about because you've been there many times yourself, or at least in some government office that looks exactly like it. At the front of this long room were three tables set in a U formation, behind which sat a bored but pleasant-looking middle-aged woman typing away at a computer. To her right was a microphone, behind which were three surprisingly comfortable looking chairs. On another table sat another microphone and a chair. Facing these tables were rows of far less comfortable waiting room chairs, and here is where we sat down, along with a number of others who looked just as hesitant and confused as we did.

The woman, dark-haired and somehow official despite the fact that she wore nothing too distinguishing or flashy, stood and announced that we were in bankruptcy court. After giving us a few instructions, she sat down again and called up the first case. Those people went and sat in the chairs to her right along with their lawyer. The official woman then asked a series of questions, to which they answered yes or no. There was some shuffling of papers and an unanswered call for any creditors who wished to make a statement (in fact, not one creditor showed up for any of the cases I witnessed), and then the case was closed and another was called.

The only amusing thing that happened in two hours was that a tall blonde woman walked in at one point and sat very deliberately near a couple who were sitting in the row in front of us. The blonde woman sat and glared at the couple, who ignored her for a few seconds. Then the man turned back to us and said, "I'm getting the staredown," and laughed. Not knowing if "the staredown" was something that normally happened to people in bankruptcy court, I furtively watched the angry blonde woman and came to the conclusion that she must be a creditor who was very upset with the fact that these people were declaring bankruptcy; but when she leaned over and angrily whispered something  to the man and woman, it was immediately apparent that she knew them on a more personal level. From what I gathered from subsequent events, the woman of the couple was an ex-spouse to a man who was declaring bankruptcy, and the angry blonde woman was the bankrupt man's current wife or girlfriend (or someone who was strongly on his side). A house had not been sold as per the divorce agreement, which caused the official a little concern. The ex-wife stood up and told the judge she'd had it on the market for a year without success, and the blonde woman snorted in disbelief. When the ex sat down, the blonde woman stage-whispered to her, "Yeah right, it hasn't even been listed yet. Way to lie!"

Bankruptcy court AND a show!

My friend's lawyer was late, but he walked in before any of his cases were called. When it was my friend's turn, the questions were asked and answered and it was all over in about two minutes. Nothing dramatic, all routine. (Interesting side note: it was the first time my friend had ever met her lawyer in person.)

I guess I kind of thought something more dramatic would happen. There wasn't even any weeping or wailing, no stern looks from the official, no explosive denunciations from a creditor. Nothing like that. Just a lot of sitting and waiting, which has always been my experience when dealing with government sorts of things.