lessons in adulthood from a 1999 Chevy (and my dad)

Some people have an emotional attachment to the first car they drive. Some people have memories of being sixteen, driving around in the sticky July heat, singing along to Cat Stevens with their best friends at midnight, or making out with their first love in the backseat while parked in the driveway of their parents’ house, or buying that first car freshener that is supposed to make the interior smell like “Hawaiian breeze” but really just makes such a small, enclosed space wreak of old lady perfume. Some people look fondly at the small dent in the door and remember the time their best friend crashed a bike into the side of the car during spring break.

I am not one of those people.

For the past three years, I have driven a 1999 Chevrolet Lumina, and for the past three years, I have loathed that car with my entire being. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to have a car that my generous parents graciously allowed me to haul all the way to Michigan, because living at boarding school in the woods without a mode of personal transportation would have made me certifiably insane. I don’t know what I would do without my little old Chevy. I just don’t have any warm fuzzy memories about this car in particular.

My car is named Oscar, a name that my sister gave it as soon as she got her driver’s license and inherited it. In addition to me, Oscar has been driven by both of my sisters, my uncle, and my grandfather, who originally owned it. I feel the need to explain this to anyone who rides in Oscar, based on several factors:

  1. It is extremely obvious that this car used to be owned by a senior citizen. The color is what I like to refer to as “tumbleweed,” a muted tan-brown color that only a senior citizen would select when purchasing a vehicle. You know the color. Tumbleweed is the safe choice, because black and white show dirt too easily, and red and blue are just too flashy. You don’t want people to get the wrong idea when you’re driving to church or the pharmacy.
  2. This car was made when car phones were still relevant. I know this because there are two forms of car phone devices inside Oscar. One is a plastic receiver that looks like a toy phone sprouting out of the floor between the driver’s and passenger’s seats. It doesn’t stay mounted to anything in particular, so it just gets kicked around because the curly cord that attaches it to the floor is ridiculously long. The other is an arm-shaped mount and/or charger from 1999 – when cell phones were still the size of a ketchup bottle – coming out of the (mostly non-functioning) car stereo. It doesn’t fit the floor receiver because that would make too much sense, but instead just interferes with most of the stereo buttons on the right side and makes it impossible to see the clock from the passenger seat. However, it does function as an excellent hanger for trash bags and other miscellaneous items.
  3. There are two bumper stickers on the back, neither of which I selected myself. One reads “world peace” and the other “I (heart) sushi.” While the former is obviously something I support, and the latter is an absolutely true statement about my feelings toward raw fish rolled in rice and seaweed, neither of these proclamations are things I would have chosen to state publicly by slapping stickers on the rear end of my vehicle. I don’t even have a problem with the overall concept of bumper stickers. In fact, there are many nice stickers I’ve come across that I have considered adorning my car with. But, since my sisters both drove Oscar before I moved to Michigan and took him with me, the world peace and sushi stickers are stuck there for the entire world to see. Sometimes, I imagine someone driving behind me and cursing me when I suddenly slam on the brakes because a rabbit is crossing the road: “GODDAMMIT! What’s your problem, sushi lover?!”
  4. The car still smells like old people, despite the fact that it hasn’t been driven by anyone over the age of 25 in almost ten years.

Oscar is not the kind of car I thought I would be driving at age twenty-four. But he is fully paid for, so while my friends who drive flashier, newer vehicles are emptying their bank accounts every month to pay off their cars and undergrad student loans, I’m able to spend excessive amounts of money on nail polish, clearance-priced sweaters, air fresheners, and shampoo every time I set foot in Target. I’m effectively still a broke-ass twentysomething, but at least it’s not because I drive a car that’s too fancy for me.

While I like to think of myself as an independent woman most of the time, the truth is I have my dad’s number saved in my phone favorites for the exclusive purpose of calling him whenever something goes wrong with my car. Eventually, my dad purchased Triple A for our family, and I am convinced it is because of the number of times I have called him from Michigan because my car won’t start. I still call him out of desperation every time, though, and he still replies every time, “Sorry. Call Triple A and have them jump it for you.”

On one recent night, as I made a treacherous winter drive into the closest town to where I live, my turn signals mysteriously stopped working. Instead of shrugging it off and figuring I would deal with it once I got to my destination, I veered off the road and into the first gas station parking lot I could find. I pulled my fingers out of my mittens, still frozen from scraping the daily layer of snow and ice off of Oscar, and frantically dialed my father.

“Dad!” I exclaimed when he, surprisingly, answered the phone. My dad hates talking on the phone more than anything. He is notorious for not answering, and when he does, our conversations usually last no longer than two minutes before he asks if I want to talk to my mom.

“Hi, Maddie,” he said, his voice echoing suspiciously.

“Am I on speakerphone?” I asked.

“Yeah. I’m, uh, I’m playing MarioKart,” he replied.

My family owned no gaming systems until I was ten years old. Then my parents gave me and my sister a PlayStation for Christmas. My dad, who picked out a few games for us to start out with, ended up playing a game called “Spyro the Dragon” all night on New Years Eve, and it became clear that the gift was more for him than us. Years later, when the Nintendo Wii was released, my mom gave him one for his birthday, along with the newest version of MarioKart, which was really exciting because you could use the controllers as actual wheels. Five years later, my dad still plays MarioKart for at least a half hour a day (usually during his lunch hour – he comes home, makes a sandwich, and plays a few races before heading back to the office), despite the fact that he has beat literally everything you can beat within the game. Instead, he races online against other players who, for some reason, are also home in the middle of the day. I suspect that my father’s main opponents are college students and competitive stay-at-home moms whose children are napping.

All things aside, MarioKart is some kind of release for my dad, and I guess that’s not a bad thing, really. He doesn’t have many other hobbies, unless you count watching The History Channel, reading political blogs, and making specialty drinks with his expensive, state-of-the-art espresso machine.* Plus, his MarioKart addiction has led me to acquire mediocre skills in the game because of the number of times I’ve played against him. Skills that I have been able to unveil at several different parties, much to the surprise of most of my male friends, who assume I’m useless at video games** because, well, I spend most of my free time writing, pining after fictional characters, and painting my nails. I’m also not a competitive person by nature, hence my aversion to team sports of any kind, but put a Wii Wheel in my hands and I will cut a bitch.

“Okay, well, I have a question about my car,” I said, choosing to ignore the video game sound effects on the end of the line. “I’m not sure if you can even help me, but I thought I’d try. The turn signals aren’t working. Like, even when I try to use them, they don’t blink on the dash at all.”

Victorious music erupted from the game before my dad said, “Hmmm, yeah, it’s probably either a fuse or a switch.”

“What does that mean?”

“Well, you will need to replace the fuse if that’s what it is.”

“I don’t know how to do that.”

“Well, you might have to wait until morning and go to an auto shop, then.”

“Dad, I’m on my way to town! I promised John I would go to his gig!” I had reverted back to my teenager-y speaking tone. But in my defense, I was on my way to town to see my friend John play drums in a local band, and I was already running twenty minutes late.

“Just drive carefully and brake slowly anytime you’re going to turn,” my dad said. He sounded only mildly exasperated with my helplessness. “You can always use hand signals, too.”

“WHAT?!”

“Hand signals. You know how to do that, right?”

“Well . . . yeah. But I’m not doing that, Dad.”

“Why not? It’s a perfectly legal option.”

“Nope, not happening. Um, how hard would it be to change the fuse myself?”

So my father, nearly 700 miles away, talked me through finding the fuse panel (on the dash, next to the passenger side door), reading the key in the manual (page 6-56), and where to buy extra fuses at 9:30 p.m. on a Wednesday night (a superstore that is open 24 hours a day). And in the parking lot of Meijer, wearing skinny jeans and boots that were made for fashion, not function, I knelt down in the slushy parking lot and singlehandedly located and changed the appropriate fuse in an attempt to get my turn signals working.

The fuse in question did not fix the turn signals and I ended up having to take my car in to the mechanic the following week, but the entire experience of hunting for the fuse panel, buying the right kind of replacement fuse, and managing to yank the old one out like a decaying tooth in a dark parking lot at 10:00 p.m. made me feel undeniably like a grown up, independent woman. Despite the fact that I had to get step-by-step instructions from my dad from two states away, I had managed to troubleshoot a problem on a car that I usually held nothing but lukewarm feelings for.*** Driving home from town that night, I started to think that, after three years of having a full-time job and living far away from my family, I was finally starting to become an adult. I was able to do my taxes without my dad’s help (thank you, TurboTax!), I knew how to get basically anywhere in town without using my GPS, and I had finally learned how to cook eggs beyond scrambling them. I could make it on my own . . . as long as I had my dad on speed dial.

Tune in next time, when I use my newfound empowerment to change a tire**** and shop for household appliances.

* I’m not joking when I say this is the most complex piece of equipment in my parents’ kitchen. When I was home a few months ago, my dad was tinkering with it, and when I asked him what he was doing, he replied simply, “Upgrading the software.” Leave it to my father, the computer programmer, to have an espresso machine with software.

** An assumption that is mostly accurate, with the exception of MarioKart and any rhythm-based dance or music game. Go ahead, challenge me to Guitar Hero. I dare you.

*** But a few days later, when the cigarette lighter that I plug my iPod transmitter into (the only feasible way to play my own choice of music, because the CD player in Oscar’s stereo skips madly every time I make a left turn) crapped out on me, I was able to fix it by locating and replacing the fuse . . . no phone call to my father necessary!

**** HAHAHA.

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self-inflicted torture: adventures in jeans shopping

It is common knowledge among my close friends that I do not wear pants. Not only do I not wear them, I legitimately hate them. Most of my business casual work-appropriate outfits consist of skirts, tights, dresses, and leggings. The only pants I consistently approve of are yoga pants, which I probably wear far more often than I should, especially considering that they make me look like a soccer mom on her way to pilates. But I honestly think soccer moms might be on to something, because my ideal outfit is equal parts comfortable and cute, something that yoga pants are, and jeans and dress pants definitely are not. I feel restricted when I wear regular pants; I usually have to wear a belt which makes it worse, and the whole time I’m wearing them, all I can fantasize about is changing into leggings or yoga pants, with my legs all wrapped in stretchy, cottony comfort. When I’m wearing comfy pants, I feel moderately empowered because my legs are not imprisoned in a cage of thick/rough/stiff/uncomfortable material and I’m also not as worried about the lacy band at the top of my underwear making a surprise appearance anytime I need to bend over or make any unusual movements.

There was a time when I thought that jeans themselves were comfortable casual wear. As a teenager, my go-to outfit was jeans and a hooded sweatshirt — I was not a fashionable sixteen year-old. Then, when I became an adult and my daily wardrobe could no longer include jeans before 5:00pm, I abandoned them in favor of more comfortable options in the evenings: yoga pants, sweats, leggings with weird prints on them. That was the point of no return. I had found a new Pants God to worship, and it didn’t have zippers or buttons or a waistband that was too tight when I was on my period.

Lest this blog post sound like the mundane ramblings of a crotchety old woman, I would like to insert here that I have recently begun coming around to the idea of jeans again. This is partially because I like the concept of jeans more than their actual physical manifestation. I think they’re cute paired with any one of my many sweaters. I like them tucked into boots. I sometimes think they make my butt look good. But shopping for them and actually wearing them is a different story. However, the other day, as I began a giant (much overdue) purging of my closet, I discovered that I was in desperate need of a pair of jeans that actually fit me well. All of my pairs were too big around the waist, too short, or too bunchy around the ankles. And regardless of how infrequently I may actually reach for a pair of jeans when I get dressed in the morning, I decided that, as a 24 year-old semi-professional young woman, there was no excuse for me not to own at least one or two pairs of nice jeans that actually fit my ass.

So I did what any mature young lady in need of jeans would do: I enlisted the help of my friends. Because I can’t even decide when to pee without consulting my Google Calendar, I sent my friends Ellen and Kate an invitation that included the phrase “HELP ME FIND JEANS THAT ACTUALLY FIT ME,” and early* on a Friday morning, we set off into town in search of a pair of jeans that would hug my curves, not fall down, and not make my butt look flat. A noble, if somewhat frivolous mission.

Our first stop (after sucking down our morning doses of caffeine at the coffee shop) was The Gap, and as soon as we walked into the store, I was reminded why jeans shopping is so overwhelming: the vocabulary is ridiculous. “What are you looking for?” Ellen asked me. “I DON’T EVEN KNOW,” I cried out, exasperated, as I surveyed the stacks of denim surrounding me. The words listed around the store boasted a cut for every body type, but I didn’t know which one I was looking for. Sexy bootcut? Real straight? Skinny? Super skinny? Sexy boyfriend? It was like trying to order a latte at Starbucks, which, by the way, is one of the most overwhelming processes ever for an analytical control freak like me. I was reminded of that quote from Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail:

“The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino.”

Except, in this case, you have to choose your cut (bootcut, skinny, straight), fit (regular, relaxed), wash (dark, light, fancy non-denim colored), size, and length (short, regular, long), and once you’ve done that, you have to try them all on under hideous fluorescent lights, while the fitting room attendant judges you for hauling ten pairs into the room with you because you don’t know what you want and you just want to make sure you’re trying on all the options available to you before you shell out $70 for a pair of pants, and, hopefully, reach that “absolutely defining sense of self.”

What’s worse is that every store decides it needs its own fancy terminology to describe its denim. So, after I tried on fifteen pairs in every size, length, and cut available at The Gap, we moved on. Each store we went into had a different selection, different names, and different sizing. I tried on regular lengths that were too short, and long lengths that were too long. I tried on bootcuts with too much flare at the bottom, I tried on boyfriend jeans that were too baggy in the butt, I even tried on skinny jeans with ugly rhinestones on the pockets. With each ill-fitting pair, I got more and more discouraged. But Ellen and Kate, being the committed, beautiful humans that they are, forged onward. Ellen marched around each store, throwing pair after pair over her arm, and running back and forth to the fitting room, pulling different sizes when something didn’t fit correctly. They told me how things really looked, instead of the way I perceived them to look after standing in multiple fitting rooms, sweaty from changing my clothes so many times, with messy hair and very little self-confidence left.

Eventually, we ended up at JC Penney. Discouraged, I reluctantly tried on a few picks from the juniors section and a couple random pairs from the misses section. Ellen, who at this point had thrown out all the rules and joined me in my little fitting room, was taking things off the hangers and handing them to me, then sorting them into piles based on how they fit.** All of a sudden, I had more jeans in my “maybe” pile than in my “no” pile, and I actually had to narrow down my options! I ended up with two pairs of dark wash jeans, approved by both Ellen and Kate, that fit well AND made my butt look good, and I honestly couldn’t tell you what the actual names of the jean styles are. I just know they fit, and I am the luckiest person in the world that I have two friends who were willing to dig through the skinnies and the bootcuts to help me find the ones that did.

So jeans shopping will probably always give me anxiety. I still don’t know what stores have the best fit for me or how I stumbled upon the couple pairs that I ended up buying, and the next time I go out, I’ll likely be just as clueless as this time. You also probably won’t see me wearing jeans more than a couple times a week (I still love my leggings and yoga pants), but it’s nice to know that my frazzled, sweaty, caffeine-fueled expedition was worth something.

Now just wait until I’m forced to go bra shopping. I’m sure that will yield some more great material.

* 9:00am is early when you work in residence life at a boarding school. Too early, probably, as Kate pointed out: “I don’t think I’ve ever been in town this early. Are the stores even open yet?”
** Because she’s an angel from heaven.

on summer nights, I dream

There’s a specific kind of beauty in summer nights at my parents’ house. After the heat and sweat of the day have dissolved and the afternoon stress is all but forgotten. As the dogs stop barking and the hazy, dreamy summer sleep settles across the neighborhood. When the warm summer wind dances softly through the open windows and the rest of the house is finally silent. This is when I come alive.

From my tiny second floor bedroom, I watch the fireflies in the backyard bounce against the blackness; tiny, bright flickers of light, pricking through the dark fabric of night. I stare in childish wonderment at this marvel of nature, then light a candle to imitate them, a single flame glowing within my dimly lit room. This is my place. Here, this tiny space filled with trinkets of childhood and old sweatshirts and half-used bottles of fancy lotion that weren’t worth packing but are too pretty to throw away, this has somehow become my home again. My bed nestled in the corner, surrounded by piles of books, a box of crackers or two, and all the musical instruments I attempt to play, envelopes me as I sink down in for another night of writing and reading and dreaming.

While the rest of the people my age put on their summer lipstick and sandals and head out to grab a beer or catch a movie with their friends, I face the open window, breathe in the smell of the air, and let my hair down out of its messy knot. My tresses tickle my bare shoulders, like a new lover, timid and unsure. I slide my favorite Paul Simon album into the turntable and gently set the needle on the record, reveling in each crackle and pop before the first song begins. This whole room is filled with sounds; the slightly warped vinyl, spinning endlessly in the player, the fan buzzing in the corner, the crickets outside. Everything sounds warm.

My pillows smell like lavender as I descend even deeper into their embrace. I pull a blanket up around my shoulders and balance my mug of tea between my knees, determined to find a position that will allow me to read my latest endeavor and sip casually at the same time. This acrobatic act is all part of the ritual; the warmth of the tea radiating against my body, the fluttering of my book’s pages in the breeze as I try to hold it with one hand. It is comfortable without trying to be.

I read. I write a little. I read some more. Mostly though, I dream. I dream of stories I don’t have the ability to tell yet. I dream of friends far away. I dream of things I’ve never tried but always wanted to. I dream of my life in five years, ten, fifteen. I think back on old memories, pretty little moments filled with jokes or kisses or too much wine. I keep a notebook by my bed and jot down random phrases as the night goes on. Funny quips to use in future writings, stories I need to write down, quotes that I find inspiring. I even draw a flower doodle on the edge of my notebook paper, but it’s pretty unimpressive. Visual art has never been my strongsuit.

Eventually, my time of the night is over. The record, after its third play through, stops with a loud click. My tea is gone. My eyelids droop, heavy with exhaustion. I blow out the candle and watch the long, spindly vine of smoke wind its way through the air. I climb back into my bed, and the place for dreaming and being is now the place for sleeping. I drift off, relishing this simple night of nothing and everything all at once, and knowing that tomorrow holds another chance for this deliciousness, this peace, this beautiful summer night in my own place.

"I don't recall a single care / Just greenery and humid air"

“I don’t recall a single care / Just greenery and humid air”

I’m not a writer but I play one on this blog, and other dumb things that have crossed my mind lately

Sometimes I assess the state of my life based on whether I have anything to write about. When I’m too stressed out, I have a hard time collecting my thoughts in a coherent way. When things are going swimmingly, I don’t want to spend an afternoon holed up on my couch, clacking away on my keyboard. It’s typically in between those two extremes where I feel most productive. I need just enough stress to make me use writing as an emotional outlet, but enough positive energy to be able to focus and use my time productively. But that happy medium has been too freakin impossible to attain lately.

I’ve been lacking in inspiration, motivation, and creativity. I’ve tried countless times over the past month or so to just sit, write, and accomplish something. On one particular warm spring day (which have unfortunately been few and far between in northern Michigan thus far), I made the 20ish minute drive from campus into town, my windows cracked and Josh Ritter’s new album playing sweetly through my car stereo. The sun was out and it seemed like the perfect day to spend a little time at my favorite downtown coffeeshop, sipping a cup of local organic tea, and unloading some of the things that had been burdening my mind. (I sound like a huge hippie freak, sorry.) But after I got there, ordered my tea, and made myself comfortable at a little table, I couldn’t write anything. I opened a new Word document. I thought of the infinite possibilities I would have relished within that blank document back when I was a teenage short story writer, but I stared at my computer and nothing came to mind. I drank my tea really quickly and then had to pee right away. I fidgeted constantly. I checked Facebook 847 times. I didn’t understand what had changed. A couple months ago, I could barely sift through all of the different topics I wanted to write about. Now I had none.

Perhaps I should explain that I’ve never considered myself “a writer.” That sounds stupid now that I’m actually declaring it, because…well, I have this blog, don’t I? And honestly, I’ve been writing for most of my adolescent and adult life. But I’ve gone through writing phases. As a preteen and teenager, I wrote short stories all the time. I was obsessed with young adult fiction and most of my stories followed the typical teenage-girl-facing-the-world-slash-in-love-with-her-best-guy-friend model that I devoured, one novel at a time. As a senior in high school, I got my first (and only, so far) freelance job as a teen opinion columnist for my local newspaper. (My old columns are all in their online archives, I recently discovered, so that was a fun blast from the past during one recent and extremely boring front desk shift.) In college, I understood the mechanics of writing for academics well enough to breeze through the writing requirements of all my courses (especially my music ones, because apparently nobody in that discipline expects you to be able to express yourself unless it’s through performing or writing notes on a staff — one time I was assigned an analytical paper on a specific lied for my theory class, and my professor was so impressed by my writing skills that he gave me an A+, which I didn’t even know you could get in college). I even tutored other students in writing and took one creative writing course during my senior year. But I never considered writing to be more than just a skill that I had, a useful tool that allowed me to easily communicate in various capacities and environments. I didn’t consider it as a career choice (though I guess I have made a little money doing it and teaching others how to do it). I let it be a part of me as it always had been, but it was never a defining characteristic.

I guess the point is, writing has always just been a normal part of my life; a convenient skill when I need to capitalize on it, or an outlet to express creativity or get caught up in telling a story that’s not my own. More recently, though, it’s been a way for me to process emotions that I can’t otherwise get out. For one thing, I don’t express myself eloquently when I try to speak about my feelings. I have to get them out in writing, to put them down in black and white, in order to feel like I’m adequately explaining myself. So I do that sometimes. But since I don’t see myself as a “real” writer, I don’t have ways of getting myself past that staring-at-a-blank-screen-with-no-inspiration point. I don’t have exercises that I use to get the words flowing. I always found those exhausting when I was forced to do them in school. But sitting at that table in the coffeeshop with nothing to do but browse my Spotify playlists, I realized that it’s also exhausting to want to write, to have this desire to let the words flow freely for awhile, and not be able to do it.

So now, as I’m trying to redefine myself and my career path heading forward into my adult life, I’m starting to wonder if I should take writing more seriously. It’s always been this constant in my life, but since I saw myself as a musician for so long, the writer side of me always fell by the wayside. I’m not sure why I felt like I needed to choose between the two, but now that music has become more of a hobby for me, I feel like it might be time to let my writer side grow more. I need to force myself to sit and write, even if it’s about nothing important, nothing worth reading a few hours later. I need to come up with ways to break through that blockage I face, but I also need to accept that sometimes, the block is an important part of the creative process. I need to want to do it, but I also need to do it even when I don’t necessarily want to. I need to start writing down my observations, taking in my surroundings and reacquainting myself with the way words can express literally anything around you or within you. I need to find a way to write when I’m so stressed I can’t handle it and when I’m over-the-moon happy, and all those other moods in between.

Mostly, I think I need to see myself as a writer. So here we go. I’m a writer.

things I want

I want to spend an entire afternoon in bed, finding shapes in the patterns on my ceiling. I want to make a pot of coffee, but let the mug I just poured sit cooling on my bedside table — I’ll drink it anyway, but there’s no rush. I want to not worry that there are more important things I should be doing, or that my life is passing by while I lay there. I want to be calm for one day.

I want to put my entire music library on shuffle and just let it play, not worrying about a song that’s wrong for the moment because every song has something in it that’s right for the moment. I want each track to draw up some kind of emotion or memory, and even if they don’t fit together, I want to know that this order of moments has never happened before and never will again.

I want to sing, loudly and without any awareness of my surroundings. I want to not think about breath support or vibrato or diction. I want to forget everything I learned in school and just sing because I have a voice that’s meant for that. I want the raw side of myself to come out through my voice. I want to not worry about sounding pretty.

I want to read a book in a silent room. I want every distraction to melt away because I am so immersed in the words on the page. I want the text to leap off the page, soaked into my mind and every fiber of my being. I want the scent of the pages as they flip through the air to keep me reading.

I want to be kissed — not a romantic movie kiss, but just a simple, gentle kiss from someone I love. I want to know in that moment that there is someone who cares for me as much as I care for them. I want that kiss to linger with me for the rest of the day, my lips tingly, knowing there is someone out there who might be thinking about how they just kissed me. I want the fluttery heartbeat of anticipation that follows that kiss, waiting for the next one.

I want to drive somewhere without worrying about emptying my gas tank or getting back home in time for the next thing on my calendar. I want to maybe park somewhere and get out and go for a walk before turning around. I want my best friend to be in the seat next to me and Paul Simon to be playing on the radio.

But mostly, I just want to lose control for enough time for all of these things to happen.

the thankfulness project

Earlier in the school year, a coworker and friend of mine challenged me to find three things I was thankful for every day for a week. She had read that this kind of gratitude related to happiness, and while I was intrigued by this assertion, I kind of forgot to keep up with it. (Sorry, Maggie!) Until now, that is. So I tried it out, and here are the things I wrote down…

Tuesday, January 15th
1. I am thankful for a job that makes me feel fulfilled and has brought so many meaningful relationships and lessons into my life.
2. I am thankful for a family that will always be there to have my back if everything turns to shit.
3. I am thankful to live in a place where I can revel in the power of the arts every single day.

Wednesday, January 16th
1. I am thankful for a coffeeshop that offers a small coffee and a donut for $1 every Wednesday, my day full of meetings.
2. I am thankful for a good friend who I can talk to and cry to and laugh with on a regular basis.
3. I am thankful for cheesecake.

Thursday, January 17th
1. I am thankful for a comfortable bed which makes sleeping in on my days off not only possible but enjoyable.
2. I am thankful for the voice that I have and the ability to make music with it.
3. I am thankful for beautiful music made with people I am just getting to know, and the hospitality and kindness of people in northern Michigan.

Friday, January 18th
1. I am thankful for my little sister Olivia, who made me a big sister when I was only two years old and always provided me with a friend to play with while we were growing up. (Happy birthday, Liv!)
2. I am thankful that I can spend my Friday evening off-duty dancing to live music on campus and have the time of my life doing it.
3. I am thankful for karaoke.

Saturday, January 19th
1. I am thankful for hot tubs.
2. I am thankful for coworkers who know how to work hard and play hard at the same time.
3. I am thankful for men’s pajama pants because they are the comfiest pants I own.

Sunday, January 20th
1. I am thankful for naps.
2. I am thankful for pink nail polish.
3. I am thankful for my extensive music library and the thrill that comes with rediscovering old favorites that I haven’t listened to in forever.

Monday, January 21st
1. I am thankful for full nights of sleep.
2. I am thankful for dark roast coffee.
3. I am thankful to live in a place that actually has seasons, even if right now I hate winter and the ridiculously cold temperatures I have to brave just to get a hot meal in the cafeteria.

So there you have it. Seven days of thankfulness. And it really did help me see the happiness in my life. And as much as I’d love to keep doing this every single day, I know that I can’t commit to it (I have a hard enough time updating this blog semi-regularly!). But I do think it’s beneficial to take some time every once in awhile to examine my life and see the good in it. In the middle of winter in Michigan, it’s easy for me to get into a funk, feeling sorry about the hard things in my life or the things that could be better. However — and I know this entire post has been cheesy and it’s probably stating the obvious — I know that it’s my perspective on everything is what dictates my happiness. This exercise was proof of that. So I’m going to keep being thankful, because it’s obviously not hurting me. 🙂