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Old 11-24-2013, 11:25 AM   #1
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Smile Perspective

I just read an article on Zerohedge that made me truly think about something I take for granted these days: My station in life and what I do to maintain it. The subject article can be found here http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-1...ible-decisions and I highly recommend reading both the letter and corollary.

I have found myself bitching about my work-load lately, because I feel older than I probably should these days, and those seventy-hour-a-week stretches can be incredibly tough on a guy. Sometimes I get so run down I begin to feel a little sorry for myself and self-pity takes hold like a clamp on my soul. Well, I got to that place last night after working yet another in a long line of Saturdays, because I simply have too much shit on my plate and have to get it finished and submitted for approval [Gov documents and work plans]. Once again, I looked at my net pay and felt a little bit sorry for myself when I saw that Uncle Sugar had taken over four hundred and ninety dollars from my pay before I even got to see it. I was fucking livid. When I came home I was in a shitty mood and not talking to anyone because I didn’t want to precipitate an argument over something I can neither control, nor blame on someone. The Wife came in after a while and not being able to push aside her maternal instincts, asked me what was up?

I answered her with a mini-rant about how hard I work yet never seem able to accumulate enough ‘extra’ to suit me. I went on and on about how I deserved more and how I should have done something different because the outcome would have been different somehow. Before I could get much farther she looked at me and said, “Are you listening to yourself?”……”Answer me!…..Are you listening to yourself?” I thought about it a minute but it didn’t click for me so I said that yes I was listening to myself.

At that moment my wife looked at me and began a short lecture about how I needed to calm down and get some perspective about things before I continue to bitch and moan about how I deserved ‘more’, or how I should have done something else with my life. She told me a story about one of her girls that she sponsors, and all of the things she once had that she will most likely never have again. You see, my wife is a Friend of Bill W. and has been for over fifteen years, so Mrs. Ancona sponsors other women in recovery because it helps her maintain proper perspective and keep her personal balance.

This girl as it turns out, was married to a neurologist for fifteen years. This guy wasn’t just a neurologist, he owned and operated six offices across the state and had privileges in several very prestigious hospitals. This yound woman was also a physician, a thoracic surgeon to be exact, and between them they made an unimaginable amount of money, and lived in the extremely exclusive enclave e down here called Lansing Island. For the uninitiated, Lansing Island is home to a huge portion of Florida’s GDP, and every single resident is a multi-millionaire or a billionaire. Well, one fine day this lady had a car wreck and broke an ankle and some ribs. While in the hospital, she was given some pretty powerful pain medicine to ease the discomfort of broken bones and torn muscles. When she left the hospital to convalesce at home, she continued to use the pills, and became addicted. At first, she could hide her addiction pretty well. She wrote prescriptions for pills to relatives and friends at first because it was the easiest way to go. Eventually her husband found out and demanded she go to rehab, which she ultimately did, but it didn’t stick. She ended up addicted to dilaudid, oxycodone and alcohol, and in very short order she was stealing drugs from her practice, her husbands practice and from the hospital, which cost her the medical license, very nearly her husbands license and her marriage. She ended up getting arrested for forging a prescription in her husbands name, got eighteen months in jail and wound up at the half-way house my wife volunteers her time to help other women with alcoholism and addiction. Now, she is grateful to have a solid waitress job at a local steak house and she lives from one day to the next, always thankful to make it one more day sober. She lost the money, the right to practice medicine and her husband, but she says she is just fine with that. She lives in an efficiency apartment that is a quarter the size of her former five car garage and she drives a twelve year old beater.

Armed with some new perspective, I broke out my five hundred dollar telephone and put it in to calculator mode. As it turns out, Uncle Stosh peels out of my check almost twice what this woman nets each week in tributes and taxes, yet she is fine with that and has adapted from having access to millions of dollars to having access to a few hundred bucks a week. I cannot imagine having to live on just what I pay in taxes, let alone half of what I pay. I often bitch about the condition of some of the homes in my area, complaining that it doesn’t cost that much to maintain some paint and a little landscaping, but now I realize that it is likely that they are making a value decision rather than being cheap or lazy. Perhaps it’s a choice between food and home maintenance. I’m just an anomaly. I am not the average Joe for this area because it appears I am earning [apparently] far more than most of these folks but never realized it because I never really gave it any thought.

I should add that the Ancona Clan has lived where we do for a very long time. I have no desire to “move up” or to graduate to something bigger or more expensive because this place is paid for in another year, and we simply don’t need to. While we certainly could afford to live in a better area, we are content to stay here and to continue to save for our retirement. I took a good look around myself last night and let it sink in a while.
When I take in to account my preparations for retirement, my reserves for emergencies and the fact that I actually have both a discretionary account and a Christmas account, I have to admit that not only do I get more than fair pay, I’m damn lucky to still have a job with all that’s happened over the last five years. In fact, we very nearly closed up shop not that long ago. Perhaps instead of whining about how hard I work, I’ll simply be grateful for what my family has been blessed with and call it good.
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Old 11-24-2013, 11:40 AM   #2
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That happened to childhood dr of mine.
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Old 11-24-2013, 11:48 AM   #3
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This wasn't about the addiction Penn, it was about me not realizing that I am in a far better place than those who surround me, yet they seem to be able to do just fine on less than a quarter of what I have. The missive is about realizing that I really have no room to complain.
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Old 11-24-2013, 12:05 PM   #4
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I understand.

What good is it- if you cant appreciate it all? Having what we want- vs wanting what we have.
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Old 11-24-2013, 12:15 PM   #5
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Well Penn, I don't quite have it all, but I do in fact have all that I need and my family does as well. Maintaining perspective becomes difficult when we develop a normalcy bias. For instance, when you grow accustomed to having a neighbor bring you tomatoes, normalcy bias develops to the point that you don't really think about it in terms of value, you think in terms of an expectation. When the friend stops bringing them to you, and you go to buy them, you'll be shocked to find you have to pay 3 bucks a pound for tomatoes that have no flavor because they were picked green.

We pick our own veggies and grow our own chickens as well as [over time] turkeys. This will be the first year we eat a home raised organic free-range bird. I truly am looking forward to it. Most of what we have this year will have come from our garden. The stuffing will be seasoned with dried celery from last season, the yams will be our own, the beans came from the garden as well. My neighbor is making a pie from our mini-pumpkins and one from butternut squash. We'll serve acorn squash as a part of the meal, but when we bake it packed with butter and apple pie spice, it really is more of a desert. I think the only things we have to buy are the white potatoes, bread and butter. This year will be off the chain.
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Old 11-24-2013, 01:01 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by ancona View Post:
This wasn't about the addiction Penn, it was about me not realizing that I am in a far better place than those who surround me, yet they seem to be able to do just fine on less than a quarter of what I have. The missive is about realizing that I really have no room to complain.
I've been a friend of Bill W. for twenty nine consecutive years. Prior to that, I accumulated a rather embarrassing number of arrests etc. and spent a substantial amount of time locked up. My Mom shot herself when I was six; the next twenty one years were a train wreck for myself and a whole lot of otherwise innocent people. After I got sober, myself and some other "12 step warriors" started five twelve step rooms in a rather unpopular section of town (the cops told me you can't start a 12 step room here, this is a high crime area, to which I responded "I am the crime. Where else would I go?") and that is ALL I did for ten years, with the exception of menial jobs in order to support my sobriety.

I rode for years. In 1983, while on a ride to Alaska, (just starting) a drunk driver crossed the center stripe and amputated the leg of the girl behind me. I put a tourniquet on her leg and we said the lords prayer. (she never lost consciousness). This was back in the day where car phones were as big as a shoebox. A nurse driving by (we were in the country, 45 miles north of Tampa) called Bayflight. Lynn lived; the Russian teacher (we were taking Russian) suggested we start a business in Russia (the CIS was desperate for western stuff). I ran an ad in St Petersburg (Russia) and Moscow looking for a girl to live with (nothing altruistic there). Little did I know that I would get hundreds and hundreds of letters. One of them was from a filipina in Singapore using an alias (false passport). She wanted to go to work for our company (doing feasibility studies for joint venture proposals). Lynn nagged me to write her (no internet then) and eventually I did. So in a serendipitous way I saved her life and she got me a wife. Eventually, I flew to Pagadian City to meet her and her parents face to face, and we were married, assisted by a mercenary who has since died of throat cancer.

All of my friends started dying. (Almost everyone was twenty years older) Hep C took a lot of people. I was 35 years old and didn't have shit. Everything I owned fit in the saddlebags of my bikes. I started to get really bitter, somewhat like your rant above. I was surrounded by folks I had helped to get sober, and their lives were getting better, they were getting educations and buying houses and having children etc. and I wanted mine. I wasn't very grateful, thats for sure. Bing and I moved to Texas to help my sister start a sawmill (in one sense a very bad mistake as every employee except myself drank and drugged). But it all turned out OK and Bing and I bought a house and had a couple of kids, and I got her son here from the Philippines (a fucking nightmare, as immigration denied him entry five years in a row)

I bought land in Mindanao 15 or 20 years ago with the intention of us settling down there, but things have gotten much, much worse in the Philippines and I doubt we will ever live there. We have gone back and forth seven times, and the kids have had the opportunity to compare life here and there, truly eyeopening for sure. Now everyone is grown except for the twelve year old; the eighteen year old and his girlfriend who lives here are both going to college and the 29 year old has two degrees (International business and International economics) but has been unable to find the job he wants the last four years. He lives here and works as a manager of the same grocery chain I work for.

My gas rates went up Nov. 1 and I just got my bill. All we use gas for is the hot water heater and to cook with. 36 dollars went to 114 dollars. I had a fucking meltdown but my wife said "there are a lot of people living here" and in the big picture I guess it doesn't matter.

And I'll leave you with this, Ancona. I worked commercial fishing for about five years. One time we had 2000 pounds of bait squid go bad (refrigeration down) and the flies blew it. We had to jump down in the hold with buckets and pass that shit up; we dry heaved for hours. I'm a firm believer in it can always get worse.
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Old 11-24-2013, 01:15 PM   #7
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The trick is to be happy with what we do have rather than buying into the dream thats pumped at us by the media 24/7.

Some of the best things in life cost almost nothing apart from a bit of time -

Simply walking in nature
Being with peolpe you love
Sharing ideas with people of like mind
Meditation and pondering the infinite

When our familys needs are met, we are free to enjoy all these things and if we are really lucky, we can even enjoy doing whatever we have to do to earn the tokens that achieve this.

Works for me

Choose to be less angry ancona and to give more time to reflecting on how good things really are for you and your family, preferrably without having to make comparisons to others cos thats just the media influence.

Your post is more reflective than your usual weekend rants and would appear to be a step forward.
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Old 11-24-2013, 01:29 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ancona View Post:
She ended up addicted to dilaudid, oxycodone and alcohol, and in very short order she was stealing drugs from her practice, her husbands practice and from the hospital, which cost her the medical license,
This is EXACTLY how the sit-com M.A.S.H. came to be. He used to be in Florida, perhaps your wife met him.
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Old 11-24-2013, 02:28 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ancona View Post:
... Perhaps ... I’ll simply be grateful for what my family has been blessed with and call it good.
Happy Thanksgiving (week) to you Ancona.
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Old 11-24-2013, 03:30 PM   #10
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Rblong,
My usual "rants" are nothing more than a steam valve for me. I am actually quite well adjusted, just incredibly busy, yet surrounded by people with zero passion for what they're doing with zero motivation to do an instant more than they absolutely must to get a paycheck. As vice president at a firm that by January 5th will employ significantly north of 100 people, I have a different sort of challenge to deal with. We have [at any given time] 20 distinct and separate political personalities and belief systems walking around on our projects, and I have to be able to deal with every single one of them. I perform a lot of training in several of the certification programs we have, including OSHA safety training, respiratory protection training [for respirator use and program compliance] and asbestos/lead awareness on multi-employer worksites. This means I have to be able to communicate cleanly and meaningfully with someone that I may have absolutely polar opposite beliefs. To do that, I have to be able to share my aggravations or I would explode, and that could be quite ugly.

Anyhow, much like an editorial column writer, I am not the person that writes here, that person is the aggregation of my thoughts and opinions that are too political to share with friends and co-workers. To get as political at work as I do here would be career suicide.
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Old 11-24-2013, 05:23 PM   #11
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An Ancona Thanksgiving Message.
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Old 11-24-2013, 05:45 PM   #12
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so what you are implying ancona, is that youve had a reasonable week at work and no one upset you enough to cause the steam valve to pop ?

So your favourite gov. had to take the flak

Heres to many more such weeks
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Old 11-24-2013, 07:31 PM   #13
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Great story ancona.

Best non-rant ever.

There's an old saying, which I too often lose sight of:

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
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Old 11-25-2013, 02:07 PM   #14
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...

A wonderful thread, ancona and friends.

I am a friend of Bill as well, 423 days, but who's counting?
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Old 11-25-2013, 03:06 PM   #15
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Looks like I'm the only one who doesn't know who "Bill W." is. I probably need to get out more.
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Old 11-25-2013, 03:27 PM   #16
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William Griffith Wilson, or Bill W. is the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. At AA meetings, folks don't share last names, only perhaps their last initial. This helps with the anonymous part. The twelve step program is world wide in scope and enormous in size. AA is entirely funded by recovering alcoholics, with each group or room started by a member and funded with donations by meeting attendees. Some rooms bring in larger crowds and are able to afford larger or better rooms. Other groups are smaller or dedicated to a particular demographic. Womens groups are the most common sub-group followed by older folks who can't really identify with twenty somethings and the world as they view it, so they start a meeting somewhere, get together a grub-stake and rent a spot.
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Old 11-25-2013, 04:11 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by ancona View Post:
William Griffith Wilson, or Bill W. is the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. At AA meetings, folks don't share last names, only perhaps their last initial. This helps with the anonymous part. The twelve step program is world wide in scope and enormous in size. AA is entirely funded by recovering alcoholics, with each group or room started by a member and funded with donations by meeting attendees. Some rooms bring in larger crowds and are able to afford larger or better rooms. Other groups are smaller or dedicated to a particular demographic. Womens groups are the most common sub-group followed by older folks who can't really identify with twenty somethings and the world as they view it, so they start a meeting somewhere, get together a grub-stake and rent a spot.
thirty-five years ago, when I was on a tear with my BIL, we were behind a car with an "I am a friend of Bill W." bumper sticker. I said, "I wonder who Bill W. is?" and my BIL said "I think its some kind of secret cult".

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Old 11-25-2013, 06:27 PM   #18
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Aha. Well, I'm thankful that I never needed to discover that on my own.
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Old 11-25-2013, 06:36 PM   #19
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I did not think he ever disclosed his last name... hmm
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Old 11-25-2013, 07:19 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by PMBug View Post:
Aha. Well, I'm thankful that I never needed to discover that on my own.
I had to look it up too, thankfully.
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