Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Market Mess Legacy....

Well, yesterday was an interesting day! The market plummeted almost 800 points and there was nothing else on television but talk of this disaster....All this because the House of Representatives couldn't get a majority to pass a bailout bill. Since I am home most days, either writing or resting my broken toe, I had the full benefit of listening to every Congressman/woman, every economist and every political pundit that came on. Everyone had a theory, that didn't include him or herself.

It was doomsday from the economists, for sure. We are on the verge of total colapse, and a bailout is the only way out, apparentely. The money taxpayers are dishing out will be the only thing to prevent this massive problem, it seems. Funny, I don't remember Wall Street asking the taxpayers for their opinion about anything when money was being made. Now, that their money is urgently needed, the taxpayers are important! On the other hand, we heard political rhetoric from everyone else. Was it the democrats who couldn't get every one on their side to vote for the Bill, was it the Republicans who couldn't get enough votes to deliver a good showing? was it McCain who showed up in Washington, or Obama because he didn't? The blame game was in full swing. Was anyone else NOT surprised at this? These are politicians after all...they need to blame someone. Taking responsibility is not their strong point!

I am not a economist, hardly know how to balance my checkbook, nor am I a political pundit...but it's not rocket science either. You make the money, you get in trouble, you pay the consequences. Period. Isn't it the way life is? Don't we tell our children that all the time? It's called being a grown up.....but because this time it involves the whole American economy , we are told, and the whole world for that matter, Wall Street has to be bailed out. Wonderful!

The ones I actually feel sorry for are the young people who would inherit this mess. According to some it will take years and years to right the market, years and years to get this mess cleaned up and most of the guilty parties will be dead and gone by then!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

ME first......

This is a new feeling. Getting up in the morning and just thinking what is it that I want to do..... This is most unusual for me and I guess for most women..... but I am determined to try. Don't get me wrong, it is not something you just do. After years and years of conditioning ourselves that we need to cater to our family and fellow men, catering to US comes hard.

We volunteer for everything from PTA to charity events, from organizing the school Halloween party to our best friend's baby shower. How many time we just raise our hand at a meeting and then have no clue what we are volunteering for? Or say YES to another committee because we subscribe to the premise that: if you are busy, another task will make no difference. Remember? if you want something done...ask someone that is already busy!!!! I remember doing that when I lived in Curaçao: for the American Women's Club or Special Olympics or the International School or Prinses Wilhelmina Fonds or anything else I was involved in. It seems completely natural and expected.

Well, it might be expected, but it isn't natural. We cannot be always busy, trying to right the world or solve every problem we encounter or trying to fix things and be everything to everyone. So this is the new ME. I am going to take time to do the things I always wanted. I will wake up in the morning and just lay there thinking of what I want to do next. I will NOT jump up and make that bed in record time or rush to get breakfast ready or get ready to run errands. All will be done in due time and when I feel my body is ready to get up and go!!!

I will write when I feel inspired and only about things I enjoy. I will check emails and messages twice a day and answer only the ones I want.... the delete key will be used more often. I will travel more to places I want to go, less to places I have to go! I will apply the old rules of my new lifestyle: try and concentrate on things I can enjoy, not solve.....and if I am busy already...I cannot take anything new on! This is going to be fun!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A wake up call.....

Life has a way of getting you to pay attention. For me, it came in the form of chest pains and a visit to the ER. After months of traveling back and forth to Panama, stressing about my mother's illness and her move to a new home, my body started sending me signals. Small pains, feeling tired, sleeplessness, but of course I was not having any of that. There was so much to do and so much to fix.....who said so?

Finally, Monday night, I started having chest pains for the third time in as many weeks. I am not fond of hospitals and I hate the thought of going for tests that would involve needles. Still, I decided to go to the nearest hospital's ER. As soon as I said I was having chest pains, I was ushered in. My vitals were checked and preliminary information taken. Then, of course, insurance information was asked for......you don't get anything for free.

The doctor was very reassuring and calmed me down, I was plugged into a host of electronic equipment and waited for six hours for an available bed. My husband was ready to take me home when I was taken upstairs. The night nurse was so helpful, and that was the last one! During the night I had people waking me up to take my blood pressure, draw blod or give me an EKG. So sleep was out of the question.

Morning came and with it more tests and more waiting. A cardiologist was called, but he didn't come until late afternoon. Mostly, I had more tests and waited which was very stressful. Food was horrific, but when you are hungry...also my husband brought me some comfort food. When the cardiologist finally came, he told me all tests were negatives. He advised a stress test to rule out all heart problems and I could go home. Well, not so fast said the nurse on duty. The floor doctor had to give his OK. We waited about two and half hours for that, and I went home. I was grateful.

Life is short and we have to take it easy, stop and smell the roses, tuberose, lilacs, marigolds or whatever flower tickles our fancy, or our noses. We cannot fix everything or solve the problems of the world, as my wise friend Ruth told me. That hasn't stop women from trying. We need to give ourselves the same level of care we give everyone else. Be assertive and take care of ourselves FIRST! I intend to do just that.....

Monday, September 15, 2008

All is well after our Weekend Getaway!

Of course taking off for the weekend was a splendid idea. We just drove up the East Coast of Florida and stayed at a seaside hotel, within walking distance from the beach. Beach, well, that is a bit of a stretch. There was sand, sea, sun and people under umbrellas or playing in the waves. The water was not too clean, lots of seaweed and debris and breaking waves. The sand was littered with dried seaweed, leftovers from past picnics and cramped with people.... Still, the water was refreshing and the sun was shining and there was a breeze. There is a walkway that was lively and had lots of cafes, bars and restaurants. We actually found a couple of places offering excellent choices in simple, good food. In between, there were souvenir shops, places selling beachwear and sandals, so quaint! At night, the moon was almost full and the breeze never stopped.

There was also a sense of old Florida, like it was before people discovered it, before South Beach and the celebrities and the overdone atmosphere. I found it so much more genuine and nice. Families were out together and everyone seemed to be so relaxed. There were no pretences and no showing off. A more than welcome change! More important for us, the air conditioning worked and we slept blissfully all three nights! I can do this again anytime!

Feeling reinvigorated and with our new tans, we drove home early today. I was not really convinced that the problem was going to be solved...but AaaaHhhh! It's just perfect! When we arrived at our building, we were told at the lobby that in some of floors the air conditioning was working. As I walked into our apartment, I turned the unit on....the soft humming of the compressor, the cool air coming through the vents, the pleasant feeling inside our apartment, all contributed to make me smile. Can't believe that the heat and humidity are gone, can't remember how it felt, what cool air can do for you. All is well that ends well, I say.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Moving away.....sooner than later!

IKE didn't come our way, but I feel as if it did! Sunday night, with strong wings coming ashore in our little island, something annoying happened. The electrical system in our building gave in.... The AC cooling towers stopped working, the power was cut in half and we lost telephone, cable and Internet access. Oh Joy!

Angry tenants and owners descended on the lobby early Monday morning. To no avail because there was nobody to give them an answer. Sometime during the day, we were advised that there was a problem with the electric system and that Florida Power and Light was working on it. Later we learned that FLP was not even here and there was nobody coming that day to fix the problem. The night was hot and humid, and sleeping was impossible, BUT we thought Tuesday all was going to be fixed. Wishful thinking!

Tuesday came and went with annoucements made throught the public speaking system: the problem was serious, but someone was working on it...please be patient!! Right, I thought, these peole have no clue. Months ago, my husband and I had learnd from someone that used to work here that one day this was going to happenned. Those cooling towers needed to be replaced......

Never mind, I braced myself for another night of tossing and turning on my very hot bed. Wednesday came and the bad news became worse. The towers have to be replaced and that will take about one week! Fortunately, cable, telephone and Internet had been restored. At least I was not cut off from everyone......

So we bought electric fans...big deal! They only move the hot air. I truly feel like I am in the middle of Equatorial Africa! The first couple of days there was a breeze, compliments of IKE, the cooled parts of the apartment. I opened windows at night to catch whatever cool breeze was passing by, and during the day I kept everything dark...to conserve whatever coolness we got at night.....a trick I learned on the Tropics. Didn't help much! Everything in Florida is built with central AC in mind, so catching the breeze is next to impossible. Brilliant! with hurricanes coming this way every other year, did anyone think about.......power outages?? NEEE!!!!!

Now, all pretences have stop, as has the slight breeze. Management has disappeared, so nobody to answer questions. The breeze has ceased completely and the humidity has gone up. Time to seriously consider moving away and SOON!!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

And now....IKE!!!

The hurricane season continues...It will peaked on September 10th, but HANNA is still churning over the Bahamas and now we have IKE to worry about. This is a major hurricane threatening Hispaniola, Cuba and possibly South Florida. That is something I didn't want to hear. It means evacuation! We live in a risk area, facing Biscayne Bay. Our small island is not high enough above water and the surge will pass over it immediately. The winds will be too strong for any building to take.

We weathered KATRINA and WILMA three years ago at home, but they were not major storms when they hit the area. A couple of years before that, we did evacuate when CHARLIE hit Florida. It was not fun and the preparations before we left took hours, taking everything down, securing valuables in closets and bathrooms and when we returned we needed to put everything back in it place....exhausting! Thankfully, nothing much came of that and we were relieved.

In this part of the world, it is better to prepare and know what to do and when to start, I don't argue with that. Better safe than sorry anytime, I say. So we will follow the cone of uncertainty, all the explanations of the meteorologists, the endless press conferences of county and state officials until we finally have to get in our car and leave. If IKE hits South Florida as a Cat 3 or 4, we will not be able to come back for days....and when we do who knows what will find.

So on that happy thought, I will go to the supermarket tomorrow. Try to avoid the crowds and buy what will need. I will then settle down to prepare for IKE. The couple of months when the weather is nice, the sun shines on a beautiful blue sky and there is the crisp feeling in the air, are not enough for me. The six months of watching the Atlantic, hoping that the next wave from Africa doesn't turn into a deadly storm, outweigh all that. Maybe it's time to move on.....