Tag Archives: grace in small things

Small thanks

Today I am thankful for:

* a refunded BS parking fee from the hotel last night
* being strong/healthy enough to haul a heavy backpack through four miles of walking through airports and city streets
* my ipod, and ability to sleep in lots of odd situations/conditions
* the used bookstore having something to read that didn’t cost too much money
* stamina to endure twelve hours of traveling via rental car, airport shuttle, airplane, other airport shuttle, other car, BART train, feet, and two buses in order to get home
* that the neighbor’s wifi is suddenly usable again from my couch
* two kitties that both really missed me and kept my lap warm at various times this evening
* frozen homemade chicken soup
* netflix instant and the ability to watch terrible soapy teenage gymnast melodramas
* chocolate
* that I only have one more night after tonight and two more days before I get to see my husband again

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Sayonara, Larry

Official update: Larry never showed, so Dan gets to keep the job at least through the end of the year. What that means for us, I’m not yet sure, but I hope it’ll become a permanent job with benefits because that means we can actually MOVE.

What that means for Dan is that he keeps getting to look at pictures of colons, polyps, bone grafts, and other disgusting medical illustrations for money. Hooray!

I’ve kind of started to like doing computery things outside, though it makes many of my planned posts more difficult. For example, I can’t do a recap of my sister’s wedding without the photos that are on the desktop, but I can’t use the internet on the desktop. So that will have to wait another few days. But now that we know Dan’s going to continue getting paid, we can buy a new router and I can be back to huddling under blankets on the couch soon.

Right now, I’m at the library where I used to do my homework, watching the light fade, after running my errands in town. I’m looking forward to walking home in the dusk and daydreaming about a different life – the one we’d hoped we’d be living more than a year ago. Still, there are benefits to this quiet little town (self-serve frozen yogurt shop!), and there are things that I will miss about all this alone time when we’re both living and working in the big city. So I guess it’s time to start enjoying it.

The best thing that happened to me all week

I’d walked to the store in the rain, the last ten dollars from my 9/10/11 wedding earnings in my pocket, the other pocket full of change just in case. Some juicy bits of story were piped into my ears via ipod, and I’d added a couple of extra loops to the walk, partly because I was cold and wanted to warm up, and partly because I wanted the extra distance. I’d brought a plastic grocery bag; it was sticking out of the pocket of my bright red oversized hooded sweatshirt.

Sweet potatoes, and maybe some pecans. I’d check the prices when I got there; see if it was worth my while to bother buying them at the small town grocery store, or if I should just wait until tomorrow when we do the errands we always do on the weekend when Dan’s home with the car. The $1.50/pound honeycrisps were too tempting to pass up; two of those found their way into my basket. I grabbed three sweet potatoes that looked about the right size and shape for what I needed, and looked at the holiday baking displays but decided $9 was too much to pay for twelve ounces of pecans. Mozzarella, I remembered, and made my way around the other side of the store, where I compared prices and decided to buy the ungrated cheese for $3 rather than the grated stuff in a bag for $3.50. I passed by the potato chips, even though my favorite ones were on sale, stopped the audiobook, removed the earbuds.

I got in line behind a guy with 3/4 sleeve tattoos, buying gatorade and candy and bottled water and dinner fixings, pushing a cart with what looked like a baby around 18 months to two years old. The baby grabbed at a display of slim jims, and the tattooed man pushed his son’s hand aside, distracting him with an offering of what to me looked like a baby choker candy. I flashed back to the time when I was eight and my parents had this plastic tube with a tilted bottom, meant to demonstrate what could choke a baby or toddler and what was safe to give them. Not my business, I told myself. Not my business what someone else gives their kid.

“It’s sugarless,” the guy told the cashier, “he’s allergic to sugar.” “What a shame,” she told him. “He’s allergic to all kinds of stuff,” the man continued. “We had him down at UCSF for a week doing tests, and they finally determined he was allergic to sugar, wheat, just about anything a little kid likes to eat.” They continued to chat about his son’s allergies, while the cashier bagged his purchases and the little boy begged for another sugarless candy.

It was my turn, so I pulled out the bag I’d brought and the sweet potatoes, apples, and mozzarella made it into my bag. I handed the cashier one of the fives and some of the change from my pocket; under $7 wasn’t bad for everything I’d bought. Not bad for that store, anyway. I walked toward the exit, fumbling in my pocket a bit to restart my audio book. Then, I realized my other five dollar bill wasn’t there.

The last five dollar from all that work I’d done – gone. I turned on my heel, pressed pause on the ipod, and headed back into the store to the line where I’d checked out. “Did anyone find a five dollar bill? I dropped one somewhere,” I told the cashier. “Nope, haven’t seen it,” she said. I worked my way quickly but methodically through the store, retracing my steps, but found nothing on the floor save an old, crumpled receipt. My heart sank. Five dollars isn’t an insignificant amount of money to lose, for me, at this point in my life. The cashier must have gone on a break, because I saw her in a different part of the store on my way out. “I didn’t find it,” I told her. “Check at the service desk,” she said. “Maybe someone turned it in.”

Would someone really have turned in a found five dollar bill? It’s not a lot of money, not like a $20. But it’s not as small as a dollar, or change. Lots of people would probably just pocket it, I thought, though if I found a $5 in a grocery store I’d certainly turn it in. A tiny seed of hope began to grow in my chest. The girl behind the customer service desk, where they also sell the cigarettes and rent the videos, turned to me from talking to her coworker and asked if she could help me. “Did anyone turn in a five dollar bill?” I asked. “I dropped one.”

A big grin cracked her face. “Yes, as a matter of fact, we had one turned in just a few minutes ago,” she replied. A rush of relief flooded over me. I silently thanked whoever that had been, whoever had been honest enough or not needed the $5 more than I did, or maybe they did but weren’t the sort of person to pocket it. $5 doesn’t seem like a lot, but to me it was. It was the last money I’d earned in months, the last cash in my pocket until Dan came home for the weekend and I could use the ATM card again. $5 could feed me for a couple of meals, if necessary.

I remembered the time I was walking down the street in Berkeley, not long after I’d been hired at what I thought was my dream job. I had five dollars in my pocket and one of the regular beggars, the blind one who used the sidewalk as his toilet, asked me for change. I gave him the five and remembered how important that was to me, that I could spare a whole five dollars for the first time in my life. And here I was, more than ten years later, grateful that some stranger in the grocery store had done something similar for me. Funny how roles can reverse.

Another year, another year-end meme

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?

I did all the flowers for a big fancy evening hotel June wedding, all by myself. Yay!

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I made a few last year, but I’m not going to go into that. I think in 2010 I’ll be a little more go-with-the-flow.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Jive Turkey gave birth to Sadie Rose Turkey. That was pretty awesome. Two of my cousins had their fourth and third babies, respectively.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes. Petra Cat Kitty died on December 10. That sucked major ass.

5. What countries/places did you visit?

January: Went to NYC and Connecticut, adding two new states (for me).
March: California (Bay Area and LA)
May: California
July: Road trip through Wyoming to Yellowstone, and through Montana on the way back (one new state)
August: Traveled around CO for work; went on a weekend mountain-climbing adventure near Aspen.
October: Road trip to Austin and San Antonio, TX, adding Oklahoma to my new state list.
December: Road trip to CA through Utah and Nevada both ways, though we took different routes (the way back was mostly Nevada and Wyoming)

No other countries. 😦

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

A new job in a new state. And a fetus.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Obama being sworn in as the president in January was a pretty momentous occasion. Dan graduated in May, so that was pretty good. June 6 was the big wedding I did flowers for. And Petra died on December 10.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Ever-so-slowly learning patience. Also, my little sister and I exchanged teachable Christmas presents: I taught her to knit and she (re-)taught me to drive stick. I plan to actually get good at driving my own car in 2010. Also, with the exception of a small car loan nearly paid off, I became debt-free.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Same as last year (the lack of new job and losing camera), only this time I lost the camera out of my backpack here in Denver.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Thankfully, no, not really. I had a couple of minor colds and some annoying neck pain flareup, but that was about it.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I didn’t buy a lot. We mostly tried to save money and pay off debt. But I found a pair of walking shoes on our recent trip to California that I am thoroughly smitten with and think they’ll probably last me a long, long time.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

I don’t know if behavior is the right term, but Dan finishing his degree was hella awesome.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Sarah Palin. Several other “celebrities.”

14. Where did most of your money go?

Paying off debt, savings, and vet bills.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

My 30th birthday in March. And doing the flowers for that wedding.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?

Vampire Weekend, “M79”
Beyonce, “Single Ladies”

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
Sadder for several reasons.
b) thinner or fatter? Fatter. Feh.
c) richer or poorer? We have a lot more in savings, so definitely richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Travel. Swimming. Wedding flowers. Being content with where I am and not being so impatient about The Next.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

TV watching. We got cable and we have a pretty TV and it’s so hard not to take advantage of it.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

With my family in California.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009?

I fell more in love with Dan. 21 months of marriage and we haven’t killed each other yet, woohoo!

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Mad Men. Glee.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I try not to hate. It hurts the hater more than the hate-ee.

24. What was the best book you read?

I read a lot more books than I ever wrote about on here (including three in the last couple of weeks) but I think my favorite was Anathem by Neil Stephenson.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Dan discovered and shared a lot of new music with me this year, much of it local (the Hollyfelds). For some reason in 2009 I got interested in music again. I’d even heard of most of the music at that fateful awards show where Kanye got up on stage while Taylor Swift was accepting an award. Also, I realized I like Lady Gaga. She is wicked talented.

26. What did you want and get?

More social opportunities. We have become friends with quite a few people that we only knew tangentially last year. Having parties to go to is fun!

27. What did you want and not get?

More than I’ll go into here. Best not to end the year on a downer note!

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

I don’t know if I could choose a favorite. We saw so many good movies this year! The ones that stand out in my mind include Star Trek, Up, Away We Go, and Where The Wild Things Are.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I had a tea party where people dressed up in costume or wore mad hats, and I gave the attendees unbirthday presents. I was 30 years old. My sisters dressed as tea bags, which was awesome.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Petra not getting sick and dying.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?

A hot mess.

32. What kept you sane?

Dan, and liquor, once again!

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I don’t know if anyone really tickled my fancy this year.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

GLBT rights (again).

35. Who did you miss?

I missed everyone in California from May until I got to see them again in December. I’m never going that long without a visit home again.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

Wombat

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.

Patience is a virtue, and I often forget to just enjoy what is.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

“It’s going to take a little time
While you’re waiting like a factory line”
–Vampire Weekend, M79

Things for which I am thankful

Good food

Healthy family and friends

Healthy pets

Getting to see my family via webcam and say happy birthday to my little sister.

Wine

That I found jeans that fit

That I am capable of lifting 40 pound bags of cat litter

A wonderful, awesome, and loving husband

A job that pays the bills

That I get to see snow fall, and sunny skies, and rain, and everything else that makes each day different from the last

Follow-up

1. The beef stroganoff I made for Dan’s birthday was a success! At least, he and Steve pretended to like it. What I made turned out to be more of a beef bourignon because I used red wine instead of white. No fancy-pants cream of mushroom soup for my man! Instead, I used nonfat greek yogurt, a little bit of cream and butter, and a lot of seasoning. I didn’t really like cooking the beef (mostly because it made the house smell like cooked beef) and I managed to figure out a way to cook the mushrooms and onions separately so I only ate that part and not the beef part. The rest of the dinner was egg noodles (a must with beef stroganoff), a salad, and a fantastic chocolate cake, the recipe for which I will post tomorrow.

Dan said he had a good birthday, so that’s what matters. I gave him a nerdy t-shirt designed by Wil Wheaton, a copy of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, and a bottle of fancy Jameson’s Irish Whiskey.

2. My leg is having sympathy pain this week or something. I woke up yesterday morning with a nasty charlie horse in the same spot where I tore my calf muscle last year. Today is the one-year anniversary of that injury, so yesterday I took it easy in the class where I had the initial injury and it was OK. You’d think that my leg would have gotten it together to heal completely in a year, but it hasn’t – I still have days where it hurts or aches, and there’s still a funky divot when I flex my calf muscle in a certain way. Here’s your lesson, kids: don’t tear your calf muscle. It sucks and won’t heal for a really, really long time.

3. Let’s just say Project Hott is not going anyplace fast. I looked at the photos from my friend’s party again for additional motivation and it just made me feel worse. It hasn’t helped that my leg has been bugging me all week and that I can’t do all of the abs portion of my classes because I’ve been having nasty vertigo for a few weeks now (Sunday was the worst; I had blurred vision and felt like I was falling-down drunk after we were out walking around the neighborhood taking photos, which is why we had to go home and didn’t get more accomplished). Doctor Google tells me that there are three possibilities for why I’m getting this oh-so-fun sensation, and in all three cases the solution/cure is “wait and it will eventually go away.”

Sorry I’m not all sunshine and rainbows coming out of my butt. I guess everybody has bad weeks. (Also, work stuff. I’m not even going there.)

The one really good thing that happened this week, though, was that I reconnected with an old friend who I’d lost touch with (from the same site where I met Dan). He’s living in LA, working on films, was teaching high school for a while, and seems to be in a much better headspace than he was five years ago. (He even ran the Great Wall marathon with only two months of training! That is some serious business.) Once upon a time we were pretty tight, so it’s nice feeling like I have my friend back again.

Grace in small things (because I haven’t done this in a while)

1. Spoons.
2. Friend gave birth yesterday, 3 weeks early but now she no longer has pre-eclampsia.
3. Videos of Wombat and Spats.
4. Head rubs.
5. Husbands having good birthdays.

Blue

Sometimes it is difficult to write about things that I really want to write about, because of my blog audience. Needless to say, those of you who read my blog regularly may have noticed that I’m not posting as much as usual and not writing anything of substance. Part of this is because I’ve been feeling a little blue recently, what with it being winter (though we’ve had sunny warm days this week, it depresses me more to have that kind of weather when everything outside is stark and brown and bare; I’d rather it snow, honestly) and what with having had a cold now for more than two weeks (Day 18, and still not done being sick) and what with the impending arrival of my Official Descent into Decrepitude. That’s right, my 30th birthday is coming up in 5 weeks and I always have a hard time this time of year, but this year is different than most because it’s a big birthday.

I haven’t done anything for my birthday in years other than maybe Dan makes me a cake and a nice dinner. The parties I’ve attempted to throw since moving to Denver never seem to work out, but this year I really wanted to do something to mark the occasion of my becoming one of the hordes of women in this country who are unimportant because we are out of our 20s (because everyone knows, women lose their looks and their importance to cultural relevance once they’re 30+). For a while, I was tempted to just start celebrating anniversaries of my 29th birthday like someone I know used to do, but my Oldest Friend turns 30 a week before I do and she’s embracing the new number in our age so I suppose it would be kind of silly for me not to do the same thing.

I feel like I’m in a holding pattern right now, waiting through the last bit of Dan’s schooling, waiting through the next few months at my job (which is another post entirely that I can’t write for obvious reasons) until our circumstances change and I can leave, waiting for a sign of spring somewhere to give me hope that the world isn’t going to be drab forever. Waiting to see friends and new babies. Waiting to be over this damn cold so I can start running outside again, and refocus on losing a little bit of weight I’d like to lose before we start seriously getting down to the business of baby making. Waiting until our savings account has more padding.

Since there’s nothing I can do to speed the passage of time, I’ve decided to take a page from several other bloggers I’ve seen, to find grace in small things. Mostly I try to stay positive, stay on the bright side of life, but in the dog days of February in 2009 I’m having a difficult time making this happen. So here’s to a recommitment of positivity.

1. I am making a baby blanket for Spats Turkey, and it is going to be awesome.

2. Leftover spaghetti for lunch, so tasty.

3. Finding out the giftmas present we sent for Wombat was received.

4. Renting a cabin in the mountains for the weekend

5. Matching dad and baby ‘staches.