But I’m Not Heppy

I usually conclude my day with an entry in a typed journal, and part of that exercise is listing five things specific to THAT DAY that I’m grateful for. It’s not enough to list my family, my health, a safe place to sleep, enough to eat, and meaningful work. Nope. That exercise is fine for a thank-you list, but it doesn’t benefit the mind and mood as will a specific, particular, unique list.

So one day this week I was grateful for the dahlias growing against my back fence, that go into full bloom just as other flowers are wilting. Another day I was grateful to be able to post the trot without stirrups (on my horse) half-way around the arena. Not long ago, I could not do that for six steps.

Then I hit a situation that had me saying MANY bad words. The little community bank I’ve used for years got bought by a multi-state conglomerate, and the progression has been one of increasing frustration and worse service. The bank lobbies are now retail sales floors, complete with big screens flashing relentless ads in your face as you try to talk to a teller without everybody overhearing your business and seeing it laid out on the waist-high counter that “encourages customer interaction.” Mid-week, I got a call from the bank that because of their mergers and acquisitions, they’d be changing my business account number on September 14.

Have a nice day.

I receive direct deposits from at least fifteen separate sources in the last week two weeks of the month. Before they will put money into a new account–even if I pinkie-swear that it’s just another Grace Burrowes account–they have to do test-deposits that I verify, and if I don’t verify them timely, my account is flagged as suspicious. In other words, I am hugely inconvenienced by the bank’s little merger problem, and oh by the way, I will be traveling out of the country for much of September to places without reliable internet.

So one evening this week, I made not only a gratitude list, I also made an Annoyed list. The old bank’s cavalier assumptions about my business operations, the new bank (I’m changing banks, you bet I am) wanting me to magically modify the forms the State of Maryland uses for corporate documentation. The kindly reader who told me she gets all my books off a pirate site. The heat, the flies, the rate at which feral cats reproduce…

And having made that list, and seeing that nothing on it was The End of the World, I felt better. First world problems from top to bottom, happy life problems. Nothing I can’t handle. But I needed to stop and say, “This stinks. That’s not fair. The other makes my life harder and is STUPID.” Smurfing along, pretending I wasn’t cheesed off, wasn’t working. Having a little pout, making some dirty faces, and writing down my grinch-list helped. Then I could go on to the gratitude list and go back to being cheery.

How do you process the terrible, horrible, awful very bad days, so you can let them go? To one commenter, I’ll send a $50 Barnes and Noble e-gift card (Christmas is coming, right?).


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30 comments on “But I’m Not Heppy

  1. What annoys me most about banks and building societies that they are taking away our choices by changing their services so often that we are being steered into a certain direction to suit them__not us__the customer.It is going on in most businesses now and the poor old consumers are being tossed this way and that.Frustration and annoyance followed,so how do I come away from this situation.I buy a super vanilla ice cream cone with a chocolate flake ,find a bench on the seafront and enjoy.Then seagulls swoop down steal my chocolate flake and fly away.The moral to this story___Somethings in this life we cannot change but we can have a bloody good moan.Then get on with the next challenging thing to crop up!!!Keeps us going,we are alive.We are all part of this mad mad world.

  2. I never feel the need to make a list of such things because I usually deal with them as they happen. I for sure don’t want to take them to bed with me. Living alone, I can make as much of a fuss as I want to with no one to witness it but my kitty.

    A few years ago Social Security sent me two letters on the same day. One of them thanked me for notifying them of my change of address and the second one thanked me for setting up an on-line account. I had not done either one of those things. So I spent about an hour on the phone with Social Security setting things right. No complaint with SS – I’m glad they do things the way they do. It was just aggravating.

    I can appreciate your grievance with your bank though. I’ve had a few of those over the years.

    • Sounds like sumbuddy was trying to get their hands on your hard-earned money. For shame…and I might have stuck with the old bank, except for what Brenda said. With this institution it has been a never-ending spiral of baloney. Time to cut them loose!

  3. UGH!

    Today has started off on the wrong foot. Husband woke me up because I was snoring at 4:30 am.He rolled over & went back to bed and snored. Loudly! Dogs have been out & fed. Took the sisters out on the deck & Beanie sounded the alarm when our neighbor went for a walk, had to get her inside before she woke up the neighborhood. Beanie is asleep now…snoring.

    I have been trying to open a bank account for my club at our local bank since July. There are new anti money laundering rules, ownership rules and fraud/security rules. I have provided enough documents to sink a ship. Do I have a checkbook? No.

    How do I shake off the horribles? I get away from the situation. At work, I take a walk. For the commute, I listen to audios on the drive home. At home, the front porch, dog class and a good book get me away from frustration. Patting Rose the quiet corgi sister helps, too.

    Enjoy your vacation, relax and smell the roses….you deserve it!

    • Glad I’m not the only one having the bank account blues. They really do want everything but your fingerprints, and I’m sure that day is coming too. Meanwhile, I suspect the professional crooks aren’t slowed down by this paperwork one bit.

  4. I usually just *keep on keeping on* when it comes to poopy stuff….but I like your annoyed list! I am grateful for my life but sometimes, those First World Problems get to me and seem overwhelming. Maybe if I saw them on a list, I would realize things are not as bad as they seem and there aren’t as many as I think there are.

    I remember hearing about someone’s Sh*t List from my Grandpa as a teenager–I couldn’t imagine someone making a list of people who ticked them off. Why not circumstances or bureaucracy? Grandpa was kidding me–he was a great kidder–but it was eye-opening to think someone was keeping score. I don’t think keeping a Sh*t List is especially healthy but I do understand.

    Gratitude journals were all the rage as few years ago–I think Oprah is the one who initially promoted them–and it seemed like a good idea. I tried to physically write things down but usually, I list mine as try to fall asleep. There are days when it’s a long list!

    • I hope it’s a long list every day, but I know if I’m honest, there are some days…I’m just not in a good place mentally, or real deficits are outweighing my awareness of my great good fortune.

      And you put your finger on part of what’s annoying about the bank situation. I could not “just deal with it” when it was convenient for me to deal with it (between about Oct 10-16), when no deposits were at risk for being messed up, and when I’d be reliably on line. I could not control the timing, and that was part of what annoyed me. My money, but their schedule. Phooey on that.

  5. I let myself have a rant in my journal until I hear myself begin to repeat myself. Then I cut it off and require positive focus and future plans for the same number of lines or pages (depending on how worked up I got) plus one. Inevitably the plus one of positivity gives me an idea I wouldn’t have had or an answer to something.

    In sympathy, I’ve been through similar with my mortgage, the new bank treating me like an absolute criminal every six months when my homeowners renews threatening me with highly expensive insurance of their choosing. I have no escrow account with them as the mortgage is minuscule, my equity far exceeding the amount I needed to borrow.

    I took my revenge by reaching out to an upper tier personage in writing pointing out in exquisite detail that their bullying cost them future custom of someone with a FICO score solidly in the 800s, paying off their loan years early by means of principal payments far exceeding the monthly, and with equity far exceeding their interest to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. I’m enjoying the regular groveling I now enjoy, but infuriated that they assumed I was the possessor of a double wide based on the amount in question and thus presumably uneducated in the financial system. Given I’m roughly 18 months from paying off my mortgage, I can’t afford the satisfaction of shifting things around, but I’ve amused myself by leaving a paper trail of my correspondence with the appropriate regulatory agency which seems to have a growing file of complaints against the monolithic consumer of financial institutions on public record.

    Featuring strongly in my gratitude pages is the prospect of finding myself debt free other than property taxes and medical co-pays in the next two years.

    • My dad had his first house paid off in his mid-fifties, and he said, “That’s when your money finally become YOUR money.” I hope to see that happy day, but it’s not going to be in the next 18 months. Hats off to you for being so assiduous and well organized in your financial planning.

      And yes, I am composing a Yelp review for the old bank that ought to save a few other little old ladies from the hassle of being condescended to by that outfit.

  6. My bad days usually start with a reason to miss my husband. He died almost four years ago and, most!y, I just get on with it. But those days when I miss him fiercely that lump comes into my throat and I can hardly speak. I start to worry about everything from money to doing home repairs and I feel overcome. Usually that all comes at night so I just think of a book I’m reading and go through it in my mind, scene by scene. Sometimes it’s one of yours! My mind quiets and I can remember how lucky I am to have been loved like I was loved. And smile.

    • Your loss puts my little pouts into perspective, Floreen. I’m sorry the days are still rough sometimes, and glad you’ve found a way to get the evening blues under control. When I was single-parenting on a shoestring, evenings were my worry-time too, and the books were a haven for my imagination, where justice prevailed, the good guys and gals always won, and people of courage and compassion always got their HEAs!

  7. One of my peeves is the “first world problem” expression, perhaps because I have a friend that uses the expression way too often. First world problems frequently have first world solutions, quite often a matter of a few key strokes from someone that knows what they’re doing.

    I write it out. I recently found one I’d written in my late teens to my mother. Occasionally I have ceremonially burned my rant. (Speaking of Ludwig, once to Toccata & Fugue in D minor by Bach.)

    And once I’ve calmed down a little, I sometimes realize that it’s really not my problem.

    • You bring up several good points, one of which is the power of ritual for regaining control of my mood, if not my situation. Sometimes I write while scented candles are lit, and blowing out the candles says to my imagination, “Good job, you can go play now…” Burning a Pout List would probably be a little bit fun, and a little bit good ritual.

  8. I try to put problems in perspective, tho that can take a while. If the problem involves money, I thing of a quote I heard many years ago ‘If Money Can Fix it, it’s not a problem’ – that’s somewhat true, but doesn’t eliminate the initial aggravation. Problems that arise in the evening can really effect my getting to sleep, and a poor nights sleep effects the next day, so I try to distract my self, often by reading.

    • One of my brothers has a rule of thumb: If it’s interfering with your sleep, be it a family issue, bodily ache, financial woe, THEN it’s a problem and you need to do something about it.

      And for me, the demarcation between home and work is gone. I work at home, in my kitchen. So the whole, “Leave it on the desk,” thing is harder to achieve. I also don’t have the commute between office and home to help me change gears and mentally disengage from work issues.

      So like you, I read at the end of the day. I’m binging on Tony Hillerman these days, and it’s magic. I know the desert southwest well enough to visualize it, but it’s far away and different enough to be a great mental vacation.

  9. If my husband has time to listen I tell him the terrible thing that is messed up beyond my control and then he tells me how it will all work out ok. And he is usually right.

  10. So sorry for your troubles, Grace! I usually use wine and chocolate to improve my outlook. As well as a walk in sunlight. I need to employ all three of those with some frequency, unfortunately!

    • Isn’t sunlight just amazing? When I traveled to New Zealand (August last year), I could NOT get my circadian rhythm adjusted no matter what I tried. It was winter there–relentlessly overcast–and I could not see the sun. When I finally hit a string of sunny days, my brain got straightened out. (Well…) And when is wine and chocolate EVER a bad idea?

  11. My method might not be the best, nor am I sure I am able to completely let all of those days go. However, I tend to vent about the horrible events during the day – usually to my husband – then I distract myself with the good things such as family, pets, friends, and of course good books.

  12. My husband and I have endured medical problems this summer that have left us incredibly frustrated, often in pain, and behind financially. Just trying to get someone to answer a phone call at a medical office these days is near to impossible. All of these things have left me most horribly annoyed, just as you are, Grace. However, we were traveling on Saturday morning, and had we left when we were supposed to, we would have been in the middle of a most horrific accident that claimed at least one life and ruined many. So in the midst of frustration, I am most profoundly grateful. And our medical misery has allowed me to read a bit more than I would have normally. So to paraphrase an old pollyanna-ism, when the door is closed, you have to look for an open window.

    • We could ALL probably make an Annoyed List about the current health care system. I’m sorry that particular misery has befallen you and Hubbie, because medical troubles are real troubles. But glad the hand of fate kept you from that accident. Like you, when all else fails, I’m grateful for books to read (and books to write).

  13. Wow. I am sorry to hear of your problems with the bank. Sounds worse than dealing with large health care organizations not giving you your money back after accidentally over paying or demanding you pay a bill when they screwed up and did not do their part and you end up doing their job for them. Mostly I cried (a lot) and yelled and generally was very angry. So, I am leaving that medical conglomerate.
    I do like your idea of writing down the things that really upset you during the day/week. Makes the gratitude list even more special. Thanks for sharing.

    • Health care seems to be on big GRRRRR, whether you’re the health care provider, the patient, the person in the office trying to make sense of “the system,” or the patient advocate.

      I resisted letting myself be cranky about a very frustrating situation. I could hear my mother’s voice in my head, “Oh, stop feeling sorry for yourself… Most people would give a lot to have this problem…” But that just wasn’t getting me un-stuck. In this case, a little wallowing did the trick.

  14. I process them by sharing my frustrations with friends and family. In the scheme of things these are just minor annoyances even if they take a long time to fix. Nothing in life is simple anymore. Also I no longer expect good service so when something happens it is no surprise. When I get good service then I am very quick with my gratitude.Then I think about the more serious bad things that I have experienced and then everything else is just small stuff.

    • You are right, of course: In my life, so far, it’s all been small stuff. Where I don’t think it’s small stuff is where this “bad service” we’re all getting accustomed to is combined with disrespect for customer privacy. Amazon, from whom I make much of my money, has a lot to answer for in this regard, but I don’t expect anybody to make them answer for it soon.

  15. First I always listen to myself for a bit, out loud of course. These things must be aired. A few choice swear words in both English and French (being Canadian of course) Then I start to talk myself down. I review the issues and most turn out to be NAPS ( North American Problems) which I then set out to solve. If it is an emotional problem I put on my personal counsellor hat and deal with my feelings and then put them away. Then of course I must reward myself for all this nobility of spirit, cake, pie, ice cream, pudding whatever i feel like at the time. Mind you it must be an excellent treat, second best will not do. The acquisition of this sweet and the consumption thereafter takes my mind off whatever and I go on with life.

  16. *I read, especially if I’m into a great novel.
    *I mutter, grumble and heave dramatic sighs. Sometimes an internal scream helps.
    *I take a nap.
    *I think about what I could do to fix the problem. Then I sigh some more.
    *I might call a friend…depends on how much sympathy I need.
    *I pop open a frosty Diet Coke and guzzle till it hurtsAnd if there’s none in the fridge, watch out, world…