Monday, May 14, 2012

you can lead a horse to water but you have to make sure they're not going to drown themselves

I have this friend.  Well, actually I have many friends.  One of the reasons I have many friends could be due to my big smile, my sparkling and cheery demeanor, and my knack for always saying things like, "You go, girl!"  Ok none of what I just said is how I describe myself, or why i think I might have more friends than my boyfriend or family members who by default, have to be my friends.

The real reason why I feel as though I have a variety of friends is because I like to listen to people.  I'm a problem solver, maybe a bit of a control freak, and somehow I can conjure up some bit of advice for pretty much anything.  I'm mostly an expert at telling people the blatant and not always gentle truth if they have a complaint about their dating life.  A conversation could go on for hours about whether this girl's ex-boyfriend was really a douchebag, or maybe she really did nag him too much.  Sometimes people mention they have bigger problems, such as money troubles or their car has been acting up.  Even if I don't have experience to provide "good" advice I usually chime in with at least a, "maybe get a better mechanic?" so I can contribute.  Could be conceived as annoying, now that I'm writing it down to explain myself, but usually I find that my input is appreciated, even if it's not useful.

I find that the concern for others and the willingness to listen is what gets me on someone's good side.  (Let's just clear it up here, folks.  I'm not trying to toot my own horn, there is a whiny and not-so-self-promoting side to this blog post).
There are acquaintances I have from comedy or acting that I have never hung out with outside of that setting, but I probably know more about their personal issues or family troubles than a far more average acquaintance.  I attribute this to my openness and how much I (sometimes annoyingly) dish out to people about how my life is going.  When someone asks me, "How are you?" it's very hard to me to simply say, "good, you?" and leave it at that.  So when I provide an anecdote, so do they, and a small bond forms between us.

One more lead-up to where this is going before I explain my personal dilemma of the week; I have had times where I'm on a bus, or a subway car, or in line at a taco stand and somehow a stranger starts telling me about their life problems.  No idea what it is about me, maybe it's just that my face looks non-judgmental, maybe I'm too nice and too good of a listener, maybe God is telling them that I can listen to their problems without running away screaming, but I've had more women tell me about their drug-addict ex husbands abuse or their alcoholic family members' financial troubles than a family counselor at a rehab institute... and I can't really figure out why except that I always finish the conversation with, "I'm sorry, I'll pray for you" and they really seem to love me for that in some way.

ANYWAY this week seems to be troubling for me because I'm at a loss.  Two instances where I'm at a personal loss for how to react to a friend and what my role is in their life when they come to me with an unsolvable-by-me issue.

 So I have this friend, and her family member is very sick.  I don't know how to comfort her, and I'm not sure what to say except that I'm sorry for her being worried.  Maybe we all go through that one, where a friend is suffering through a family dilemma and we're just supposed to pat them on the back and have a drink with them while they get through it.  See, I'm not that kind of person!
I feel like if nothing I can do or say will make them feel better, then I'm simply useless and I should just cut out my tongue and sacrifice it to the wellness gods and maybe THAT will somehow make everything better in the balance of sickness versus health in my friend's life... how do other people simply "be there" for their friends? Really, I feel like an awkward useless dumby, like there was a part of the friendship handbook that I missed when I played hookie to sleep in one day.

So then I have this other friend that has been going through a rough patch... well maybe they've always been in a rough patch, but they have had their ups and downs and right now they are most certainly down.  I have offered so much advice, so many phone calls, so many nights agonizing over what could possibly be the root of the problems, what causes their anxiety, whether it's job related or body related or just plain life related, and now I'm at a loss.

I can tell a starving person sixteen different ways to eat their dinner and pick up a knife and fork and put it in their hands, but they're going to stay starving if they don't put a fork with food on it, into their mouth, chew, then swallow.  I could write them a book, "How to Eat" and make them read it, but if they don't apply anything I'm giving them to their problem, then it won't be solved.  So now I feel even more frustrated because half of what I'm giving them seems like it's going in one ear and out the other!  They throw their hands up and say they're giving up on "eating", they may as well "starve".  How many times can you repeat yourself before you're just as ready to give up?

Of course, that part is somewhat made up and problems are never that simple.  But the point is, there is a certain point where as a friend you just can't do anything anymore because you talked until you were blue in the face, gave all the solutions you could think of, but whoever needs help can really only help themselves or seek out the help for themselves.

Maybe I'm throwing my hands up?  I get frustrated when I feel like I'm not being listened to, like maybe I couldn't get through to the person and I start being mean to them instead of just letting them run their course.  Then comes the mother/controlling part of me where I picture myself actually letting them run the course they're on, and I am terrified they're going to crash into a wall.  Should I just let them crash?

At what point, are friends supposed to stop the hand holding and advice giving?  Where are the lines between bad friend and letting them run free, or great friend and being a control freak?  I guess I need some advice on that one.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

the old man is most certainly snoring

Going on week two of rain.  Yes it's finally Spring, but wasn't this supposed to be April weather?  I'm confused!  Why isn't May a little bit sunnier and nicer??

I'm an avid believer in climate change, but it saddens me to see things happening to quickly.  A lot of people are incredibly uneducated on how this whole thing works, and I only say that due to the fact that last year when we had twelve foot Nor'Easters (only somewhat exaggerating) everyone had things on facebook that read:- Yeah right "global warming"
- Come on Al Gore, I thought you had something there!
- More like "global cooling"

and so on, and so forth. What people fail to realize it that climate change to any capacity, that which we have been so forewarned means just that: climate change.  It means that seasons that we knew as kids were a little different than those our parents knew, and the ones our kids will understand are probably going to be even more drastically different.

This year we didn't get a lot of snow in Massachusetts, or most of New England for that matter.  Last year there was so much snow that people in Brooklyn and Queens died in their apartment buildings when ambulances couldn't reach them for emergencies.  I was sad about the non-snow in our area, but grateful we weren't drowning in it I suppose.  There is a downfall about the early Spring we had though, and I'll tell you why that's especially dangerous for the environment.

The warm weather we had in March made the trees bloom much earlier than they should have.  Might not seem like a big deal, but then we had a frost or two.  Ok, so the trees can bounce back, right?  Well that could be the case, but then we have to consider that it was so warm that bugs were already out.  I saw mosquitoes in March!! Which also means that there must have been worms.  Worms and other bugs that birds usually eat.  When those insects are in their prime on a regular ideal sort of Spring, the baby birds are also supposed to be hatching.  When bugs come out too early, there's not enough of them to go around for the birds.  Therefore, the bird population suffers that year and the bug population is well, simply put, gross.
(Not to mention, this year they're projecting HUGE BUGS in the New England area because not enough of them died over the winter when it didn't get quite cold enough to kill some of the population off.)

Notice how it's only in places like Vermont, Michigan, and other states that are known for crazy amounts of snow that seemed to get any this winter?  But while ski season usually extends to almost April in Stowe, VT I ended up wearing shorts in the middle of March the entire time I vacationed with Will.  We were hiking through melting snow and sweating.  Nothing up there had proper time to slowly thaw out so we were going through waterfalls on the rock stairways and slush on the side trails.  Not to say that it wasn't a very beautiful experience, but certainly something I didn't expect or plan for ahead of time.

Now they're telling us that within the next 30 years some of the T lines could be underwater.  Lots of downtown Boston and lower Manhattan will be underwater if the glaciers keep melting at the rate that they have been.  We can't really do much to save the polar bears if they simply don't have a place to live.  Or penguins, or seals, or other ice-cap-dwelling creatures for that matter.  It's pretty sad to think about.  Sometimes I think about how evolution gave us all of these amazing animals, and then they will never get the chance to evolve into something else because we killed them all off.  Imagine what sort of animals would develop in the next thousand years if animals had the time to adjust to weather changes?  I mean let's be honest, we might not even be able to adjust in time, let alone them.

I can't really conclude this post, because there is no conclusion.  We are all told in too many ways about how we shouldn't produce so much waste, and pollution is bad, the environment suffers every time we drive a car or throw out a candy wrapper.  The fact of the matter is, most people just don't care.  Or they're duped into thinking they're doing something better by going to Starbucks instead of Dunkin Donuts when actually, the recycle bin at Starbucks just goes into the trash and they only have those to make us feel better.  (nope, not kidding).

Maybe all we can do is care more?  Or maybe it's too late.  Maybe some of the idiots who didn't think global warming would ever come to fruition will watch their cape house slide into the ocean one day.  We have to give the polar bears some sort of vindication, right?