true

There are a lot of things true love is, and here are just two of them:

True love is sending your exhausted husband home from the hospital overnight because there’s no sense in both of you going without sleep, and never regretting it during the long, lonely, sleepless night.

And true love is sitting in that rumpled hospital bed in the faint light of morning, hours before he could possibly be planning to return, hearing distant footsteps two corridors away, and knowing those are his footsteps, coming straight to your room.

 

small things

Today, I’m grateful for
– soap bubbles
homemade flour tortillas: startlingly easy to make, and so vastly superior to packaged tortillas in flavor and texture as to be a completely different creature
– new boots to wear in the rain
Radiolab
– hot tea and buttered toast
– the yanking of my horrible wisdom tooth, which appears to have reduced my once-crippling migraines to a mere dull thumping. I think this sensation is what you puny huuuuumans call “headache.”
– Tom Waits

gratitude

Things, little and big, to be grateful for this week:

- One Step Beyond! I’d never even heard of this Twilight Zone carbon copy, and now I have four DVDs of it, with its original Alcoa promos intact. Thanks to The Fella!

- Pajamas and pearls! (I ordered new pajamas, then made myself a new double-length string of pearls. Obviously, I’m going to wear them both right away.)

- Surprise bacon!

- Graduating from mooshy food to semi-soft food!

- Passover Coca-Cola!

gratitude

With practice, it’s possible to find moments of joy and grace in almost any chore, no matter how mundane or tiresome. For example: I hate doing the dishes. I hate it so much that dirty dishes have been the trigger for most of our (rare) household fights.

The height of the counter and the depth of the sink seem almost to conspire, like malevolent creatures, to tweak my lower back and my strained shoulder. The dishes are fragile and haphazardly stacked, sometimes with tiny crusty bits, sometimes a bit slippery. Once in a great while, my tender fingers find at the bottom of the pile the shattered (and sharp) remains of a dish I loved. The metal dish drainer marks the dishes; the wooden dish drainer rots. The water chaps my hands.

And there it is: I hate doing the dishes. This idea,  firmly entrenched in my head, repeats and repeats and wears itself a track in my brain, until it seems absolutely true.

But it isn’t. It’s only a thought. I’m training myself to see other thoughts, to find reasons to enjoy the small necessities of daily life. Here’s why I love doing the dishes.

- The high citrus scent of the natural dish soap makes me smile. With the orange scent sold out, we had to buy apple scent this time. Turns out apple makes me smile, too.

- The soft floursack curtain hanging on a rod over the kitchen sink. The odd positioning of our windowframe made it impossible to use a traditional curtainrod in our kitchen, so I thought and thought and then rigged up a simple solution for a few dollars. The best part: because it’s a floursack towel, when it gets dusty or spattered or tired-looking, I can whip it down and hang a replacement from the stack of towels. It makes me feel like a genius, in a teeny tiny way.

- Bubbles. I love the tiny stray bubbles that occasionally break away from the spout of the detergent bottle, floating in the still air of the kitchen or catching the breeze from the open window.

- Filling the rack and emptying the sink. How many tasks offer that simple visual metric of accomplishment? For the same reason, I enjoy laundry: if you’re doing it even half-right, you’re quickly rewarded with obvious progress.

- The old set of silver flatware, no doubt the wedding silver of a distant great-aunt, passed diffidently on to me by my mother. I love using these pieces, I love the feel of them in my hand. I love to polish them (using the baking-soda/boiling-water method), but I also love to use them even when they’re coated with tarnish. I love to scrub and soap and rinse them, I love to slot them into their little drawer. I love them.

- Breaks. When the dishes are stacked and towering and too numerous to face at once, I wash a batch, then take a break to let them drain. It’s a chance to sit peacefully with a coffee, a book, the laptop, or the phone, but still retain the virtuous illusion of doing the chores.

- A meandering mind. I do a lot of my clearest thinking during a mindless, mechanical chore. A great many of my big a-Ha! moments come while I’m doing dishes. I exploit this for academic writing by scheduling writing breaks during which I can wash a half-sink of dishes; I load up my brain with the subject matter, examine it carefully every which way, then take a break and do some dishes. As my hands scrub and rinse and my mouth hums a song, my brain ticks away in the background the whole time, poking at the dark corners of a thesis and looking for a new path.

I love doing the dishes. I should try to remember that.

“I do,” not “to do”

Presenting my to-don’t list, several things I won’t be doing in the remaining few weeks before the wedding:
– reading along with the Infinite Summer project. Sigh. Another month, I would have jumped on this.
– mastering the iPod in time to use it for the wedding playlist.
– getting a professional facial or a profession make-over or a professional anything. No, I take back the last one: I will probably go so far as to get a professional haircut.
– losing any damn weight, so please don’t ask. (Happily, because I’m not wearing a fitted gown, I have avoided the apparently rote question of dressfitters: “So, how much are you planning to lose?”)
– making a contingency plan for the eighty-bazillion things that could go awry at a DIY party of this scale. Why borrow trouble, especially when most of the likely disasters can either be shrugged off or solved with a cell phone and wad of cash?
– biting my nails or picking my cuticles to a red, ragged mess, as I often do when I’m nervous or on edge. No sir, nope, not a chance. No. Why would I? Yikes.

And, most of all:
– Clearly, I will not spend even one day between now and the wedding without a bout of teary-eyed gratitude to our families and friends, who have been so unstinting and creative in their generosity to us, and at my mindbendingly good fortune of finding The Fella in a whole crazy world full of people.

thankful

It’s odd to be lolling about in bed this late on Thanksgiving morning. Some part of my brain, trained for years, thinks I ought to have spent the past four hours bustling around the kitchen chopping, braising, and marinating. I’m not used to this indolence and luxury.
But I could get used to it.

Warning: I am a sap.

Support from dear and long-time friends is no surprise; indeed, knowing it is always there under the jokes and the kvetching is the very essence of friendship. Elli, K., T & J: there are no words to thank you for your good, generous hearts. We’ve been through so much together that your love leaves me grateful but unsurprised.
But the sweet, stalwart persistence of a few new friends utterly sideswiped me.

You took me out for breakfast. You put down your textbook and suggested coffee. You bought me vodka & tonics in that dim, swanky bar. You burbled beautifully about your wedding plans or your internship or Shakespeare. You listened. Oh, sweet fancy Moses, did you listen. You cracked stupid, smutty jokes. You hugged me ’til my knees buckled, and held on ’til I could stand straight. You revealed yourselves as true friends, and you make me quite weak with fondness and gratitude.

I take it back: you make me strong.