*My sisters Anya and Corinne are away; I am taking care of their lonely cats;
*My sister Daria is in Chicago until tonight. Tomorrow, she, her mother-in-law, Daria’s three children and I drive to Cape Cod;
*I’m taking the bus back about 24 hours later, so if you were thinking ‘Cape Cod’s not so bad, Ta,’ please kiss my butt;
*Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, is limping a lot; Paulie Gonzalez will fight the battle of the pussycat medication;
*Joe Lieberman is dumb and destructive;
*Bombs are still falling on the heads of human beings;
*My personal life, such as it is or was, has once again tanked with all the comedic repercussions we might associate with, say, the romance version of the Exxon Valdez. Pity the oil-soaked wildlife.
Frankly, if one more thing turns, I’m doing gainer somersaults off something tall. In the meantime, since I can’t think, thinking about myself may cause spontaneous combustion and hibernation is out for three months, let’s turn our attention to improving the state of the world, shall we? Yes, let’s.
Along the right side of Poor Impulse Control is a long list of organizations dedicated to good works. I love them. If I ever become suddenly and startlingly wealthy, at least a few of them would be very shortly thereafter, but money isn’t everything. It’s a good start, but it isn’t everything. We’ve talked about this before on PIC. Perhaps you’ve joined us mid-season. If you know everything I’m about to say, thank your Magic 8 Ball and feel free to go back and read something archived, where I was tirelessly surly and hilarious. December, 2005 seems to be a favorite of people pleased to have met me and poured a drink down my blouse; Miss Sasha’s wedding is popular with readers shocked that I am the fire-breathing mother of lovely, married, happy twenty-three-year-old still on her first husband. Enjoy the stories. Return PIC with a full tank, willya? Good works:
1. Your local food bank or soup kitchen is most likely in need of help. Budgets are shrinking and needy populations are not. If you live in a wealthy town without a hungry population, perhaps the next town over isn’t so lucky. When I was pregnant with Miss Sasha, I didn’t have enough to eat, sometimes for days on end. Burger King commercials made me cry. So I am keenly aware that people can be in trouble and invisible. Millions of children go to bed hungry in America every night. You can do something simple and direct about it.
Place a grocery bag in an out of the way corner of your kitchen. Check the web for your town’s food bank’s needs. Most of them will list what they want. Then: each time you grocery shop, toss one or two non-perishable items into your cart. Put these things into the bag in your kitchen. When it’s full, drop it off at the food bank. If you drop off a bag of food three or four times a year, you contribute to solving a problem in your community without breaking your budget.
2. Stuff. You have stuff in your house you don’t want or need. A lot of people do not have these things. I know exactly what you’re thinking because I am a genius and because everyone thinks the same damned thing: I don’t have time for this. No, what you don’t have time for is to call me up and listen to my mouthing off about all that crap lying around, sapping your desire to parade your fabulousness like a Pantene commercial, and that is quite fabulous. So. Get a grocery bag.
As you will soon realize, grocery bags are the key to doing good works.
Get a grocery bag, go to your closet, open the grocery bag and take off hangers, the floor or off shoe racks anything you will never wear again. Spend no more than five minutes doing this. If, after five minutes, you have found nothing you will never wear again, you are being possessive and should come back later, unless you are very thifty and do this regularly. Still, chances are very good that in five minutes you can fill this bag. Done! Walk away.
Later, on a different day: get a grocery bag. Fold and put in the bag anything you haven’t worn in a year. You’re not going to wear it again. Get rid of it! Five minutes, a few times – and please, stop shopping! Most Americans spend a ridiculous amount of money on clothing that doesn’t fit and they don’t wear. You can spend that money on fresh fruit that’ll make you feel great, or tuck it into savings for a rainy day, because rainy days come and you won’t feel any better in the latest acid-washed jeans.
Now, because you have grocery bags filled with things you don’t need and other people do, don’t obsess. Don’t overthink. Don’t re-examine. Put the bags in your trunk. Go to one of those boxes, to your church, synagogue or mosque, and give those clothes to people and agencies that deliver them to people in need.
Five minutes. A few times. Lighten your karmic load.
Tomorrow, we’ll discuss those books you’re carting around that you don’t even love. The furniture you can’t use, the household items you don’t need, the toys your children never touch – all of these things can easily be put back into circulation where there is need.
Think of yourself as part of the fabric of problems and solutions. Karama Neal of So What Can I Do? offers us new ways to consider our actions. One of my recent favorites was an eminently practical suggestion that we use cloth napkins. I started yesterday. Tomorrow looks brighter already.