Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Part Deux

No more Charlie Brown Christmas: In following my new found perspective on finding the joy in everyday, I must report there were some great things that happened over the holiday.

Once again my sage bestie taught me something: traditions are established in many ways and that one I was ready to forget should not dissolve just because a friendship did. I guess if I'm focusing on the positive, the draw would be to the good memories. As I told another friend (ad lib) a few weeks ago, "don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

As bare bones as I felt this year, the things that ended up making it to the table were the few things I relish in a good Christmas. Tradition was a great message this year. It kicked me out of a dull drum of sorts and I found myself recognizing things that have consistently made me happy through the years. Though things may change, there will always be new joys to smile about as family grows and new traditions are forged. Here are a few smiles I found this Christmas:

The nieces and nephews opening gifts followed by a stirring round of White Elephant (kudos to the Rodgers for their "fudge in the diaper" gift - so apropos as new parents).

(the bumpit as modeled by TC)
Discovering my nephew found my camera and took some photos...of himself :)
My yearly "engagement photo" with RH (wish I could find older ones to share). And a visit from Santa Maillet, no wait Hannukah Harry, no wait an oompah loompah, yes, a Christmas KTM Oompah Loompah

When All Else Fails...

...photo montage. (cue techno music)

I love the quietness of Christmas Eve morning - I’ve always been partial to it. It’s kind of like no one notices the holiday has arrived. Thursday I woke up to a lovely Andy and Gingy and the ease of a day off. The radio was on and Christmas songs were strung in and out of the regular music. Light, fluffy, dry snow was everywhere. D shoveled the backyard while Gingy posed for numerous photos (and she did pose).

This was my favorite part of the day.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Time is Here

You know, I was feeling a little more Charlie Brown than Vince Guaraldi Trio this year as Christmas finally rolled around. It was the culmination of a lot of chaos leading up to the holidays and, as always, so many get togethers that are too good to pass up. I wasn't finding the time to do the blog entries I wanted, journaling regularly, or working out - the list goes on. The end of the year always seems like the bottom of a spiral that way: circling tighter and tighter and moving faster each day.

Three weeks ago I made my annual pilgrimage to Ultimate Electronics at 6 am to stand in line for the KBCO Studio C CD. Since Volume 10, I have been there every year. My sisters come if they can, the Bong sisters come if they can, friends come if they can, and we all stand there freezing in the cold and regaling the people around us with politically incorrect comments and bad humor that seems so good before the sun comes up. This year, it was as cold as ever, felt as early as ever, and made me realize Christmas was just around the corner.

Two weeks ago, I was sure the spirit would sink in as I found myself compiling Rooster Plumbing cards and watching Mrs. Miracle on Lifetime one quiet Friday night; sadly James Van Der Beek and the second rate Christmas activities did not flip me in to the spirit (perhaps I need Pacey). My purchase of a poinsettia that Sunday started to ease me in to the waters.

A week and a half ago, I created my holiday bow and hung the holiday cards (sadly collecting on my desk) from the long strands of ribbon. Finally the goodness of the season was one display and it felt more like home. I came in every day to find the mail and sing in my head, "It's the most wonderful time of the year."

Weeks past my normal release, I was falling short with my holiday card (always my favorite yearly activity). I wasn't finding the time to do the card the way I usually do... or compile the CD that accompanies the message. Still I rallied last Sunday with the help of a good istock-base that I adjusted to fit the message I was trying to send to family and friends. I felt like a cheat but I still managed to do something. That night I got all the out-of-towner cards stamped and sealed. It was days before Christmas and I was craving a peaceful, happy home myself.

With the cards finally mailed and Christmas Eve looming, I got lost in the mix of listening to the Christmas Time is Here on repeat at work. Later, I found myself walking home and letting it continue to repeat in my ear. There was something about the twinkling lights of the city and the smooth sound: it felt soft, almost the same way it feels when it’s about to snow. Even the punk couple walking across the street yelling something seemed so appropriate in the flow of it all. I still felt like Charlie Brown, even if my life wasn’t exactly what I wanted it to be, it still somehow was good.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

30 Days to Make My Heart Happy (part 2)

If you're just tuning in (sometimes I secretly wish this blog was my own little tv show), I have been taking the last 30 days to find something positive in my day rather than focus on the negative BS that generally seems to creep up. It started after some righteous chocolate milk a co-worker brought me.

I figured it was a good start to shifting my paradigm. The things I began noticing weren't always a big deal, it was more about focusing on the positive rather than the negative. As a result: I'm a bit of a believer. Yeah me - always the cynic. I'm on-board with this positive schtuff. It really works wonders on the soul.

In fact: last Friday I came home to a beat down Mr. Maillet. He was having the kind of day where you want to turn off the world and hide under a blanket. I, however, was in an upbeat mood and decided I would bring some good in to his life since he could not muster any on his own.

We went to Home Depot that afternoon, and on the way I asked him, "What is something good that happened to you today?" He responded, "nothing." I explained my little positive project to him but he really wasn't in to it. We bought what we needed and I could tell the sheer change in physical space was improving his mood. At checkout, D whispered in my ear that he was going to order a big, fat, greasy pizza, if I wanted in (hells yeah - when do I pass up a chance for pizza). I suggested we pick one up from Anthony’s since it was in the area (and I knew that would really cheer him up). I called and placed the order and we drove over and waited out front while the pizza finished cooking. As we waited, some woman tried to parallel park in the space in front of us. I use the term "parallel park" loosely because at one point she was literally perpendicular to the sidewalk. D said, “See! this is the type of stuff I was talking about.” He took it as another sign of his bullshit day. I was laughing so hard and said, “are you kidding? This is pure comedy provided for our entertainment!” Thinking it was so absurdly funny it must have been put there to make us laugh. Never has there been a clearer lesson to me about shifting the old paradigm.

Later at home when the mood had settled, and the cheesy-goodness of the pizza was in our bellies, and the crown molding was painted, I came in to the house from a walk with Gingy to hear Mr. Maillet say, “your blog is pretty cool.” It set my heart soaring. Admittedly, I might have done a little dance too. I said "thanks" and went up to see him to talk about it, to show him how to post a comment, and to point out other entries he might like, if he has a second. Sure I’m obsessed with him supporting me this way. It's always awesome to have friends comment that they read the blog (especially since I view it as wholly indulgent and secretly my own tv show), but since D's not online a fair amount, that was the best part of my Friday. D told me that his best part was the pizza, which made me happy.

Saturday when I was in the mix of sleep deprivation and manual labor and getting ready to head up to Boulder to see Pete Yorn, I stopped for a tick to talk to him about Sunday manual labor plans and my schedule. He told me what he wanted to do as I fiddled with my money and ID like some college kid ready to rock the night off. Then he said, "So the good thing that happened today was getting the trim hung". I did one of those, “oh, that's nice honey” comments and almost shrugged it off when suddenly I stopped in my tracks and looked at him and thought, “cool”. That was the good thing that happened to me Saturday.

It's been a month of that: the little things. It's been a good month. So as promised, here is my list of what happened:
  • November 17 – Birthday Dinner with Mom and Andy at Maggiano’s
  • November 18 – No parking ticket for being 45 minutes over the limit outside the Denver Art Museum while I had lunch with Nancy
  • November 19 – Jim H. at the Safeway on 6th bagged my groceries in my bags all on his own... even though I offered to help, he refused. At my usual (UN)Safeway, the clerks act like they don’t understand the concept of bagging some one's home brought bags (D reminds me I am presenting them with my gross, germ-ridden bags from who knows where, but my argument is: it's not friggin' brain surgery) Jim did it all on his own, with a smile
  • November 20 – Unfriggin' believably yummy Gyro at the Gastro Cart on 18th and Curtis
  • November 21 – Free Starbucks coffee at Safeway
  • November 22 – D dropping me off to run from Lake Dillon to Keystone and I got to use my new snow running guards
  • November 23HRR (and free parking at work because I was so desperate to leave)
  • November 24 – Drinks with old coworkers
  • November 25 – Coming home to a lovely clam pasta dish made by Chef Maillet
  • November 26 – Turkey cooking in the Swinger while we drove to Red Feather Lakes and Pecan Pie from D Bar
  • November 27 – Laughing, laughing, laughing on the way to take the trash out
  • November 28 – Gorgeous sunrise across the lake
  • November 29 – Time talking with D about house projects
  • November 30 – An early morning run with the moon setting and the sun rising
  • December 1 – Two blocks away from a free tire fill up when I left work to find my scoot had a flat
  • December 2 – Waking up with a clear mind
  • December 3Art night
  • December 4 – D reading my blog
  • December 5 – In the midst of his bad weekend, D telling me what was the good part of his day
  • December 6 – Clean sheets to fall asleep in
  • December 7 – A long lost file for my portfolio and the first holiday card of the season
  • December 8 – A friend swinging by for a White Russian and some good insight
  • December 9 – Many well wishes
  • December 10 – Synchronicity in transport: meaning easy traffic to my haircut, got to the light rail twice before it was coming not right after it left, and the flow of errands on the way home (and the nice guy at the deli counter at Safeway)
  • December 11 – Randomly running in to a gal I was trying to touch base with on the phone all morning
  • December 12 – A clean, put back together house that got a pretty good face-lift
  • December 13 – The sheer sweetness my besties' kids for a few hours, and then getting to hang out afterward with said friend
  • December 14 – Four holiday cards to come home to and finally hanging up my bow to display them all
  • December 15 – Buying two yummy-looking cookies from Starbucks and giving them to co-workers to cheer up their day and say thanks for the help they gave me
  • December 16 - Dinner at La Loma

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Shine

We’re putting the shine on things around here. I guess you could say it started with this old plumbers welder D got polished. It was once his great uncle's tool. It sat, aged and dingy, on the shelf above our stove. You know how sometimes things collect on a high shelf in the kitchen? It was one of them; it was background music. In any case, D sent it off to get shined and it returned home this glowing piece, which now sits across from my tea kettle on the stove in our front room. Funny, it seems a bit representative of our personalities to me....

But I digress: D has been explaining to me that he’s a meat and potatoes kind of guy: a guy that does the first 80% of the work and then has a hard time with the last 20%. He knows someone who is a “finisher" (it's a technical term, it means someone who deals with the last 20%). This person is very detail-oriented and makes things look good. Damn Good.

If there’s one thing about finishing, it’s that it takes a friggin’ long time and patience. It’s like that 80% and 20% take the same amount of time, which is why I’m sure there are definitively meat and potatoes people and finishers. In any case, after Tracey spent an entire weekend fancing up the place, I found the little things made all the difference: crown molding in the front room; a new bathroom door and trim, and the pièce de résistance: the ability to open and close our bedroom door all the way without it getting wedged against the carpet.

No longer will we hear the jam of the bathroom door being shut when someone goes to take a shower. We can't see the insulation seeping out from the corner of the main room. Now I can open the bedroom door all the way instead of awkwardly moving around between it and the bed to retrieve things from my nightstand. Now, things are flowing a little easier and it’s all about flow as far as I'm concerned.

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's Not a Race

Do you hear bells? I almost hear bells around here. Today is the day I've been waiting for since Thanksgiving. As I came in through the frigid air to check the mail, the first of (hopefully) many holiday cards was waiting for me.
♪♫ ding, dong, ding, dong, ding, dong, ding, dong ♫♪♫
For the next few weeks, I am GUARANTEED the sweet, sweet nectar of correspondence. Forget sweet baby Jesus or the Festival of Lights, this season is about getting mail - real mail - like they used to send in the old days: something that takes a little time to get to you, is worn for the better, and arrives with happy greetings.