Glad game

I think I’ma do this once a week. I’m not good at remembering to post nightly. But I’ma stay with the whole person/ place/ thing format, because that’s easy.

So. This week, as I play the glad game, I find myself thinking about how glad I am for …

Person: My husband. Aww, you knew he was gonna end up on this list eventually. He always does. I’m particularly glad for him this week, because my latest venture into the (contract position) workforce started with a 3-day position that covers two of his days off. So he’s been doing sahd-stuff, manning the fort and handling chores and making dinner and dealing with the hours of non-adult interaction. It’s been nice to come home and the chores are done. I really like it.

Place: Leavenworth. I like the town. I like the architecture, the shops, the kitchsy German feel of it … I dunno. I just like it. I think it would be fun to stay there for a weekend. Or a month. I like the mountains, too, and the whole pretty landscape. The place just makes me happy.

Thing: My parent’s Matryoshka doll. I’d forgotten her, but there’s a little Russian shop in Leavenworth that reminded me–my sister and I used to spend so much time taking her apart and lining her and all her sisters (babies?) up in a row, then nesting them one inside the other. I’d always try to line up the edges of the painted flowers flawlessly.  My parents had steamer trunks of treasures from across the sea: matryoshka dolls and dirndls, bunads and lederhosen, tyroleon hats and real woollen Norwegian sweaters. There were treasures from the past, too: black and white photographs, or those 60’s color tinted ones, of a young and unrecognizably playful couple; a handful of political ribbons and a too-big button saying NIXON; a black and white photograph of a gangly young teenager, smiling at the camera from the 1950s; an armful of cured buckskins from real live deer that had been hunted and shot and skinned by that smiling boy from so long ago. It was always a treat when they opened those trunks and revealed the mysteries of such foreign lands as overseas, or the past. I loved it. I guess that’s more of a memory than a thing, since I don’t have the matryoshka doll, but that’s okay. It’s still a thing that makes me happy 

Friday glad game

Person: Blu, who showed me what to do and where to go on my first day, and was patient with my questions.

Place: My happy place only exists in my imagination, like Cosette’s castle on a cloud. Mine is no castle, though– sometimes it’s a rambling beach house with a wraparound porch, the whitewashed rooms open and bright with natural light. There are windows everywhere, and wooden floors, and it is sparsely furnished. The taste of salt spray lingers in the air, and the crash of waves is a drumbeat on the shore. Sometimes it’s a little cottage in the mountains, cozy and snug, nestled in a glade of evergreens where the tips of the trees meet far overhead in a delicately tracery of branches criss-crossing like a star against the pale glow of the sky, and a stream runs clear and bright behind. 

These are my happy places. They may only exist in my imagination palace, but I’m glad of them.

Thing: Mom had an embroidered flower pin brooch she used to wear to church that ended up with me after her death. I turned it into a necklace. Every time I wear it, I remember sitting on the corner of Mom’s bed, watching her get ready for church. Watching her carefully pin that brooch to her blouse, just above her heart, and the way she would catch my eye and smile at my reflection.  

Today I am glad for …

Person: For my son, who played the glad game with me while we did errands. What a cool kid, right? The topic of grandparents came up, and we talked a little bit about my mom– he wishes he could’ve known her. He asked me if she would like him, and I couldn’t help laughing a little. I was like, “Yes. She would adore you, and she’d love watching me raise you. I bet she’d get a real kick outta that.”

Mom used the parent’s curse a lot: “I hope you have one just like you!” 

Welp. I did. Bet she’d love that. (She actually would, and not like in a sarcastic way).

Place: I am glad I have‚Äč a comfortable living situation. Our rent is affordable, our neighborhood is quiet, we have a cute backyard and some pretty trees, and when something breaks, we email the property manager (who’s a fantastic landlord– timely and responsive when needed, and otherwise makes herself scarce). 

Sometimes I miss the house, but it’s curious– it’s never home ownership I miss. I don’t miss fixing things (or paying for it, haha), or dealing with the bank or mortgage company. 

I miss things like the way the sun came through the kitchen window in the morning and washed the entire room with a soft glow, or the warm colors of the wood parquet flooring, or the dog darting across the vast brightness of the backyard when freshly mowed in spring. I miss the airy, open feel of 1500 sq ft in the early spring, with the windows open and a honeyed breeze wafting through the rooms.

But those are moments, flashes of memory that really have nothing to do with whether we owned or rented. And I prefer the storage options in our new place (no hall closets or linen closets in the old place; none!), as well as the neighborhood, schools, town, location (good walkability, close to shops, freeway access) and vastly shortened commute (House=40 min one way. Rental=5 min one way).

Just really glad we live here. It’s a good place.

Thing: A thing I am grateful for … hmmmm. I’m pretty grateful for the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and the constitutionally-appointed Supreme Court currently doing their best to stop some moron from pissing all over them.

Wednesday gratitudes 

Person:

I have two amazing women in my life who are great friends and inspirations to me, and I’m pretty lucky because they’re my Unbook Club pals, too– I can pretty reliably count on the pleasure of at least one of them accepting an invitation to Unbook Club, so I don’t feel like all alone. Of course, the beauty of Unbook Club is that you’re never really alone among fellow book-lovers– I have to say, I’m glad I found Unbook Club, and met the lovely regulars.

Place:

Keeping with the bookish theme, I do like the wine bar Unbook Club is held at. It’s got a nice, casual vibe to it– laid back and welcoming. The food is good, the menu is affordable, and the few wine flights I’ve tried are pretty nice.

Thing:

Going three for three, I am glad for books and publishing. I’m glad to live in this era, when literacy is common, it’s acceptable for women to read, and books are both plentiful and affordable. These are all things that make me happy.

Glad game (x2)

I forgot to do this yesterday, so I’m going to do two for each entry.

A person I’m glad to know:

  1. My son. He’s a pretty cool kid, and I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to have him in my life and watch his personality develop. He’s intelligent and compassionate, sometimes a little impatient and possessed of a firefly attention span … but he is always a joy in my life, and sunshine to my heart.
  2. My sister in law. The road we’ve traveled hasn’t always been smooth, but it’s been worth the journey. Having a friend who is also family– a sister, even– is a truly valuable and precious thing, and our friendship is definitely a source of gladness in my life.

    A place that makes me glad:

    1. Hmmmm. Pioneer farms in Ohop. Yup. I fuckin’ loved that place as a kid, and as an adult I’ve had the opportunity to return a few times with my own son, my niblings, and with visiting friends who want to entertain their kids. I still love it. Grown-up me is just as enchanted by the tour as child-me was (albeit slightly disappointed I can no longer dress up in the far-too-small pioneer costumes available). I love that place, and every part of the tour. It makes me happy.
    2. Ocean shores. Icy cold the water may be, with waves like a kicking shock to your skin, but this is the coast I grew up on. These damp, firm-packed beaches are what comes to my mind when I hear, “sand”. I love the chill of the Pacific Northwest, the bracing bite of the wind off the waves. I love how even on the hottest, sunniest day of a Washington summer, the waves numb so cold that you can’t stay in more than 20 minutes at a time. It’s great– I can’t help grinning like a fool whenever we head out there, because nothing beats it.

    A thing that brings me gladness.

    1. My Nook Reader. Look, I love physical/ traditional books. Always have, always will, as the books accruing on every surface of my house can attest. But I also love being able to fit all my books on a slim device that fits into my tank bag or purse or backpack. I love not having to pick and choose which books to pack when traveling (because what will I be in the mood to read when we arrive in our destination? It’s a completely different place!). And it makes me really fuckin happy to not be supporting Amazon. 
    2. My KitchenAid mixer. It’s KitchenAid red, because my mom’s favorite color was red and after she died I sort of adopted it as a theme color in my life. My husband bought it for me as a gift a few years back. Apparently some of his coworkers tried to warn him I’d be mightily offended by a gift like this– thank the gods he ignored them! I grew up learning to cook with a KitchenAid mixer, and for years felt half-crippled in the kitchen without one. I use it damn near every day; definitely every week. It’s my primary kitchen tool, and one my favorite therapy aids. Stressed out? Bake a cake!

    glad game

    There’s a bit much negativity in my world lately, and I want to practice noticing the positive. So I’m gonna Pollyanna it up in here and play a bit of the glad game for a bit (I’m shooting for a month), with my own spin:

    1. A person I’m glad to know,
    2. A place that makes me glad,
    3. A thing that brings me gladness.

    Today … hmmmm.

    Person: My kid sister. I’m very glad we’ve grown up to be friends. She’s a really cool person, and conversations with her often light up my day.

    Place: I love the town I grew up in, honestly. I love the familiar curve of the freeway around the lake, the tall evergreen trees spiking up along the hills, the marshy lowland estuaries. I love the pale, washed-out blue of the sky in spring, half-covered in fluffs of white, and the heavy slate grey skies of winter. I love the brighter sunny blue of summertime, stretching over honey-scented air and green hills, with the purply-blue of snow-capped mountains jagged on the horizon. I love the familiar shape of the houses and neighborhoods, the businesses I’ve grown up shopping at, the streets I learned to drive on, the parks I used to play in, the lake I used to swim in. I love this town. Every corner has a memory.

    Thing: I have a TWSBI fountain pen, and I fuckin love that thing. I mean, I love a nice smooth inky glide on a pen regardless–huge fan of gel-tip ballpoint pens–but holy Zeus and Loki, fountain pens are amazing. I can write by hand for hours, and my hand doesn’t get all clenched and cramped from pressing down to get the ink (or pencil) on the paper. Love it!

    Out of step

    I have this post I’m working on about corporate responsibility and ethical consumerism that I meant to post last week, and then this week, but so much shit has been going on it just got away from me.

    But hey! I learned something new! Who wants to know about shingles now? Shingles– which I’ve decided to call zombie chickenpox, because why not– is this incredibly, viciously painful skin rash that (apparently) feels a little bit like when your foot tingles really bad after you’ve been sitting on it for a while, and a little bit like dipping ones’ nerve endings in hot oil before continuing about the days business with every raw, burnt fiber exposed and trembling in agony. 

    It’s caused by a prior chickenpox infection: basically, if you’ve ever had chickenpox, then shingles (aka zombie chickenpox) lurks within you, a time bomb of misery and pain waiting to explode. 

    However, if you were lucky enough to get the varicella vaccine, then congrats! That shit protects against both chickenpox and it’s zombified return from the dead.

    Soooo, yeah. It’s also been spring break, so busy on that front, too. 

     

    Drowning

    I used to be confident that, if nothing else, I had a way with words. I thought I was a writer. I thought …

    I don’t know.

    I’m tired. I can’t say anything right. I can’t get the words to line up right.

    If I can’t convey meaning in my own life; if I can’t navigate basic conversations within interpersonal relationships, how can I possibly write a book? 

    Isn’t that the pinnacle of hubris, to think I can convey ideas, thought, and meaning to an audience of thousands–to move them emotionally and connect with them– when I can’t even cross a solitary communication divide?

    I’ve been lying to myself. 

    I have nothing. 

    I am nothing.

    on the misrepresentation of artistic suffering

    I strongly object to the kind of romanticization of creativity and/or genius associated with mental illness seen in this NAMI post

    While I understand the desire to highlight positive aspects of a life altering condition, it’s a bit like saying, “This anorexia is fantastic for helping me lose weight!” or, “Yay, cancer! Now I can smoke weed!” It’s just irresponsible and, on a social/ representation level, dismissive of the very real devastation caused by the symptoms of untreated/ unmanaged illnesses. 

    I hate, too, when films/ TV shows come out with leads or villains whose “superpower” is a one-dimensional representation of mental illness; like in payment for the suffering, it grants those afflicted with talents beyond mere mortals. Most people with mental health issues are just ordinary people, dealing with the same problems as everyone else in addition to the weight of their symptoms. 

    It is a disservice to suggest the illness is a conduit to creative success or genius, because the logical conclusion is that by eschewing treatment, one cultivates creativity/ genius and therefore success. I have lost far too many loved ones among my friends and family to this dangerous mythology.

    I think it’s interesting, too, because of the class myth about the starving artist, which is often unconsciously referenced in justifying the payment of artists in “exposure” or “experience,” neither of which can pay the bills. 

    Both of these myths serve to create a link between creativity and suffering; creativity as the natural result of pain — and while perhaps an argument can be made in that regard, it does not then follow that all creators must suffer for their work to be valid, and it certainly doesn’t follow that the best work comes from instability and suffering. 

    The best creative work results from access to resources, time, support, and the artist’s emotional/ physical health allowing consistent practice of their craft, which leads to growth and regular productivity. All of this requires a modicum of financial security, emotional stability, and reasonably good physical health.

    An starving artist working two shifts just to pay the bills will be hard pressed to find funds for materials, let alone energy or time to create.

    An untreated mentally ill artist who chases flights of hypomanic or manic creativity for inspiration will find their output sporadic, disconnected, and unreliable — which doesn’t pay the bills, resulting in stress and spiraling despair. It doesn’t matter how talented a bipolar, schizophrenic, etc. you are; if you are homeless and lacking resources for treatment or artistic creation, those flights of “creative inspiration” are merely symptoms of the illness.

    A physically ill artist lacking the financial resources to access good healthcare resources or caretakers, who must expend what little energy is available to them navigating complex healthcare systems, appointments, treatments, and specialists with little to no assistance is unlikely to have the emotional or mental energy for creative output.  

    The notion that suffering equates to creativity is a dangerous and, frankly, classist myth. Only wealthy artists or those with financial benefactors/ networks can actually afford to risk their livelihoods by chasing sporadic manic daydreams of creativity.

    In defence of ‘worthless’ pretty things

    I like flowers.

    There. I’ll admit it.

    It is not a popular opinion among my peers to like flowers. To want a bouquet of cut flowers on the table. But I do.

    I like the brightness of them, the pretty freshness.

    A waste of money,” sniff my friends disdainfully. “I’d rather have a garden, or potted plants.

    I would not. I’ve never had a talent for plants. I always manage to kill them. My heart droops when I’m gifted with one, or entrusted with the care of one. It terrifies me and stresses me out.

    I like cut flowers. I cannot kill that which is already dead.

    Why do we give the mutilated sexual organs of plants as a love token, anyway? It’s just stupid Hallmark marketing,” a fellow feminist wittily jokes, rolling her eyes at the idea. I smile uncomfortably, quietly signaling an agreement I don’t feel.

    It’s not Hallmark marketing. Flowers have been a token of affection, of friendship, of regard, of love, for centuries. Hallmark is a pretty new company on the historical timeline. Maybe there’s an argument for the romance marketing of it, but know what? Don’t care.

    They’re pretty. They’re bright. They say, “Hey, I saw these and thought of you.” 

    I like that.

    I like the idea that during the course of a day, someone saw a bright bouquet of golden roses, or cheerful wildflowers, and was reminded of me. I like the idea of being associated with something so inherently happy. 

    I secretly envy people who get flowers often.

    Ugh, what a waste of money,” kvetch the practical-minded of my peers, when such purchases come under discussion. “Useless and dying! Who would even want a gift like that?

    Yeah. Exactly. They’re temporary — a gift that doesn’t clutter; something I don’t have to store or display forever or dust or remember to wear on special occasions.

    They’re just there, brightening my life for a span of time, wordlessly saying, ‘hey, someone loves you,’ with a splash of color … and then they’re gone. 

    As ephemeral, brief, and delightful as spring. A beautiful memory, captured in a photograph and a warm smile.

    I am practical, and a feminist, and not known for being particularly feminine. I like dresses, but find pants more practical for most activities. I prefer boots to high heels. I’d rather spend money on books than makeup, or motorcycle gear than expensive jewelry, but … flowers, I like.

    I just wish I didn’t feel so guilty about it.