Save yourselves!

Holy hell, y’all. I am one festering sickie.

What began as an annoying sickness last weekend has taken not one, not two, not even three or four days to erupt — but a whopping five days before this bug decided to come out and really shows its true colors. Day five was yesterday, and sleeping last night was — well, challenging. As in there wasn’t much of it.

Dear lady I walked behind in the mall last Saturday: I generally make a habit of avoiding sneeze wakes instead of walking through them, but unfortunately I couldn’t avoid yours. Moreover, I was yawning when it happened. Fantastic. You essentially gave me mouth-to-mouth and sneezed into my corpse while doing so. Thanks a lot. You’re gross.

Being the germ magnet that I tend to be, I am often tackled mercilessly by airplane cooties and travel funk. Post-travel, I’m usually walloped by a migraine. Work-wise, naturally I’m down to my last sick day until March 19th of this year (yep, counting down the days until my stash reloads). As such, I’ve turned into the loser who comes into work sick. I must be saving that one day for when I’m on, like, life-support or something. I’m that girl who really needs to start a year off with, like, 364 sick days.

OK, that’s extreme. But I’m still that girl.

All the tea that I’ve bought because of pretty boxes, sweet names and lovely aromas over the past two years has finally been consumed. Tea has turned into the kitchen version of books for me. I frequently purchase both and, up until very recently, both have been very much untouched.

Oh, there’s a picture of cake on that cover? I’ll buy that book. [Unread.]

Country Peach Passion tea? Sounds lovely. [Unconsumed.]

Pink cover with sparkly bedazzles on that novel? [Purchased. Unread.]

Magical tea for bedtime with promises of bringing on my slumber with record speed? [Purchased. Unconsumed.]

One of my resolutions this year is to read more. I read a book on the first of the year, I’m pleased to say. Tea didn’t even need to become a resolution — I just had to get really, really, really sick. Yay me.

Not sure how your resolutions are going, or if you even make them, but my new year’s wish for you is that you steer clear of this web of evil (read: my cold) that I’ve clearly wandered into. When it first hit me, I found myself looking up meningitis; my head felt like an over-inflated semi truck tire. Earlier tonight, my search was for pneumonia. I promise I’m not a hypochondriac, but if this goes on much longer, “walking dead” will likely be my next search. Unfortunately, I speak not of the series.

The world doesn’t need an icky post about my sickness, however, so this’ll be the end of tonight’s. As for my thankful tidbit, I’m appreciative this gunk has let me live another day, although I’d love for it to find its way to the door sooner rather than later. Send good vibes, please…and thanky!

I have a two-year-old.

She’s quiet, doesn’t talk back and never throws tantrums.

She’ll never succumb to the terrible twos; I can guarantee the worst she’ll give me is some difficulty when it comes to gathering my thoughts and focusing.

She’s a joy to come home to, and I’d swear she appreciates our nightly routine as much as I do. Interestingly, she can be a morning person when I can’t, up and ready to go at a moment’s notice — not that I frequently wake her before noon.

My little Thanky is two years old, y’all.

She’s a she due to her being an extension of me. Daily gratitude wasn’t what I set out to pen, and it might’ve come as a surprise to those of you who know of my unfortunate weakness for cursing like a sailor at times. But it’s ended up being my own personal happiness project — without even being aware at the time that the book existed. She’s made me a better person.

Fascinating side note: The Happiness Project was published on my birthday in 2009. That seems to be reason enough for a purchase to occur, no? Thanky could have a sibling of sorts, or maybe it would be a cousin.

So, anyway, a very happy birthday to Thanky. Thank you all for reading, for your “likes” and kind comments, emails, messages and personal stories of how some posts have touched you, inspired you to see things in a different light or just made you laugh.

For you — my readers, subscribers and supporters — I am thankful.

So very thankful.

The Final Countdown?

Tomorrow marks the last day of a daily writing expedition which has run for two years straight. And if I’m a woman of my [recent] word, tomorrow would be the end of Thanky as we know it.

But now…now I’m not so sure. It’s like a breakup that you know doesn’t need to necessarily happen — one of those things people do “for space,” even though there’s nothing that space could possibly offer that the other person couldn’t.

A well-known American journalist recently updated her Facebook status to say that she’d like to write every day in 2014 — even just a little bit.

Oh, sister — it’s easier than you think. If I can do it, anyone can do it. Why make it out to be the mountain that it’s not?

Do I do it for another year? Another two years? Five? I’ve had thoughts of morphing it into something else, hence the idea of ending it.

But since when does evolving require a clean break? Do each of us not evolve every day yet still continue to exist as others know us?

I’ve considered stopping to be less invasive, less intrusive in your world. I’ve set my writings to auto-post on Facebook, and I wonder how aggravating that is (or isn’t) for people. I imagine an algorithm kicks in at some point and those posts which receive zero interaction simply don’t rise to the surface after a certain amount of time. Assuming this is the case, my fear of Thanky being as annoying as two people making out in plain view — people you’d like to see get a room — is moot.

(Or, as Joey in Friends would say, it’s “Moo. Like a cow’s opinion — it doesn’t matter.”)

Anyway…

There are two and a half projects I’d like to work on this year — the half is a function of one having a small digital extension. But if I jump ship and start anew elsewhere, I know exactly what would happen: Thanky would be what I’d inevitably wander back to and dabble in once more, the same way I’d wander to the hummus or Coke Zero in my fridge for a snack when I first began this journey two years ago.

Thanky simply cannot become hummus, nor can it become a carbonated beverage.

Earlier tonight, I think I talked myself into keeping my old friend around a while longer. They say parting is sweet sorrow, but there’d be nothing sweet about this farewell. There would be only sorrow.

For realizing my error before the error occurred, and for knowing that I can change Thanky without having to put it six feet under and resurrect it as something entirely different, I am thankful.

2014

In just a few moments, gunshots will ring out across the city. Police sirens will fill the night air, illegal fireworks will light up the sky, shouting from nearby houses and apartments will commence and the new year will begin with a bang. Literally. That’s Anaheim for you.

I enjoyed a bit of Dirty Dancing tonight — the movie, of course, since I am hermity and battling a weird cold-flu-type-thing…it can’t make up its mind. Besides, do many people dance dirty in their 30s…?

I can answer the question easily enough about people in their 20s, however, as I unfortunately have quite the experience with such shenanigans.

It was new year’s eve 2003, and my then-boyfriend and I were at a hotel party — you know, those package deals where you buy tickets and get access to the all-night party, food, drink, silly hats and noisemakers — the whole thing. It was a good effort on my part since I’m not a fan of NYE celebrations, but one that I should’ve figured would end badly.

Long about 11 o’clock, it happened. We were on the dance floor with everyone else; he was being a ham, I was a big ball of uncomfortable awkwardness. I heard him yell at someone but wasn’t sure why — until I realized he’d spotted a girl he went to high school with. He made a beeline to her, they “danced,” (dirty, might I add) and then I saw the unthinkable.

He thought it would be funny to whip out his junk and pulsate to the beat as everything was hanging out. We were all mortified, except for him. He thought it was a riot.

I asked him what he was doing, only not so calmly — or in such simple terms.

“Dude, I wanted to see who’d notice!” he laughed.

Ah. I was no longer Girlfriend, I was Dude. It ended well, though, because after that night, he was no longer Boyfriend.

I got a wild hair and tried to redeem things in 2011. Earlier in the year I booked a hotel room in Napa and bought a ticket for a ride on the Wine Train. Unfortunately, I ended up having last-minute knee surgery seven days before I was supposed to head north. Naturally, nothing was refundable. Thwarted!

With the exception of last year when I went to my friends’ home for a few hours of civilized celebration, every new year for the last ten years has been spent in the comforting arms of my couch, usually sans-cocktails. Gotta get up early to watch the Rose Parade, you know?

There are some things I know I just don’t have in me, and one of them includes having a rip-roarin’ good time on new year’s eve. We’re not meant for each other, the same way they say cheese and seafood shouldn’t mix, or how you shouldn’t jam a metal utensil into a toaster that’s in use.

The good thing about that unfortunate evening ten years ago is that I was reminded of what I already knew: all those years of staying in weren’t really that bad, and I clearly have more of them in my future. For them, for the sanity they preserve and for knowing I’ll never, ever relive a night like that again, I am very, very thankful.

Happy new year and all that junk, everyone.

Capricorn

I stumbled across my horoscope today, and by “stumbled” I mean that I intentionally sought it out.

Rarely do I keep up on such things, but it seemed like a good idea. Perhaps some light would be shed on why I seem to always get sick around the new year, or I’d get some clarity on why my head is so fuzzy lately — aside from my OTC cold medicine, that is.

“Your ideals are driving you to take risks and make the world a better place,” it said.

Hm.

I’m not much of a risk-taker on the surface, but I do make some questionable (as judged by others) decisions that are in line with where my heart and head wish to go, so by virtue of that…I’m at least making the world a better place for myself, yes?

The thing about each new year, aside from the usual laundry list of resolutions which will largely be erased and bleached to oblivion by February, is that the new year simply implies a fresh start. It doesn’t have to be something new that we begin on January 1, but instead it can be something existing that we vow to fine-tune, to get to the bottom of, to dust off and make shiny again.

With a new year can come the revisiting of the old, and any revisiting that’s done in the spirit of improvement does make the world a better place. And since starting with one person — me, or you — is in fact a way to make a lasting change, I am thankful and hopeful that our risks, large or small as they might be, will certainly lead to a better world…if not immediately for the masses, then for each of us on a smaller scale.

Baby steps.

37.

“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” -George Burns

Today is my birthday. I was born close to noon, so I like to think that explains my penchant for sleeping late. And since I tend to be more of a thinker than a talker, they have a way of always inspiring reflection.

I can remember situations when I was around six or seven that I’d do differently if I could, but I’d not want to rewind my life completely and start over again, practically from square one. Yuck. Can you imagine?

Then there’s the batch of things from my pre-teen and teen years which would also be great to do over. Alas, no luck.

College? Too many things to count. I might’ve majored in advertising, but a lot of my electives delivered a minor in how to deeply wound oneself and carry guilt around for years to come. I’d have made a fantastic Catholic. Still would.

My 20s were spent a-chasin’, as my grandmother used to say. Indeed, I chased too much: stuff, work experience, friendships, relationships and forgiveness. The only thing worthy in that list of chasing is forgiveness, in my opinion, although that comes in time — with a lot of patience and love to me, from me. Everything else that needs chasing isn’t a need at all. It’s a waste of time.

And that’s what my 30s have taught me so far: what’s a waste, what’s been a waste, what’s been worthy and what’s important for the future.

With the exception my needy knee and a few other minor-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things issues (hopefully they stay that way), I don’t feel 37. My boss told me I don’t look it, either, so I suppose that’s a good thing.

Emotionally, however, I feel like a three-year-old on some days, and like a beat up 80-something on others. I suppose that’s my area for improvement over the next few years, until my 40s delivers a new piece of the puzzle. Emotional consistency.

Tonight I am thankful for another year in the books and for the knowledge — with the occasional shimmer of wisdom — that life brings. We certainly can’t stop getting older, but we can avoid getting old by keeping that same child-like, wide-eyed curiosity of our youth and carrying it with us through the decades. It won’t be a bandage for our missteps and it certainly won’t be a compass, but it’s mandatory for resiliency and healing, for blazing new trails and for finding new stones to turn over.

Gusto.

I was reminded tonight that whatever I put in to something needs to give the same in return.

Specifically, I was told that I’m deserving of gusto.

Gusto. Great enjoyment, energy and enthusiasm.

I agree.

It’s so easy to wake up each day and put your heart into that which matters to you. So long as we’re doing what we love, we think, all is well in the world.

But what about when it doesn’t come back your way? What about when it’s not reciprocated?

I’ll tell you what — you wake up, figuratively speaking, and you’re hours away from being 37 only to realize that one could spend the next 37 years exerting energy in directions that don’t deliver, or one can refocus and hone in on the things I want.

The things I want for the next 37 years of my life.

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to figure out what those things are, it simply takes heart. It takes listening to it as it beats throughout the day, during the quiet moments and it takes remembering that we’re not simply along for the ride. We’re able to reach out and touch the things around us, go after them and make them ours.

Tonight I am thankful for friends who remind me of the need for reciprocated gusto, and who are kind enough to point out when it’s just not happening. Friends who occasionally call our personal compass out on its misguided sense of direction are the best kind of friends to have, and for them I am grateful.

Through the Years

There’s a framed, sepia-toned photograph hanging on the wall behind my monitor. “Racing at the Clarendon” is its title, and it was taken on the sands of Daytona Beach in 1922.

Spectators are lined up along the boardwalk and can be seen viewing the festivities from out their hotel room windows. Cars — four of which are somewhat visible — take to the hard-packed sand inches away from where the water has lapped at the shore. The flagman is dressed sharply in a suit and hat, and looks a bit off-kilter. I’d be, too, if cars were heading straight towards me and we were sharing the same ground.  I’ve never been able to tell the models — a Paige or two from the ’20s, perhaps? It’s a bit of a mystery.

Those were the days: the birth of auto racing. It may not have known how many years it would see, but it’s clearly still very much alive and kicking. The same stoic expressions that grace today’s drivers’ faces are seen back then, and they command the same attention, the same crowds, the same adoring fans.

I wonder if, in nearly 100 years, any photos familiar to me — perhaps even those I may have taken — will be held up and esteemed by generations to come. The same way I look at my racing photograph and wonder what it was like to have been there, I wonder if anyone will look at fans’ NASCAR photos today (ahem, like mine) and think the same thing. Better yet, will they look at any of our current-day photos and wonder what it would’ve been like to be here in 2013?

Will Disneyland still be around? And if so, will photos taken today put the park in a recognizable light? What about our ballparks and stadiums, our national monuments and protected parks? What about city landmarks?

Will the places we’ve come to know still look the same, or will the activities we’ve taken part in be the things to last through the years and across the ages?

In my photo, the beaches of Florida look vastly different today than they did back in 1922. I imagine that in 100 years locations will experience a similar fate — we’ll be told where a photo was taken, but it will look nothing like what you and I know something to be today. Such is change.

If ever we’re impatient with the pace of our lives, all we have to do is look back on old photographs — ones from a hundred years ago, maybe photos of our grandparents during their younger years, photos of our parents at their wedding — and we’ll be reminded how quickly time passes. In the blink of an eye and in the split-second a camera shutter opens and closes, change is already taking place. With change comes a shift, however slight. Life can move pretty fast. And in the words of Ferris Bueller, “If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

For memories in old photographs and for those times before our own time that remind us to live in the here and now as much as possible, I am thankful.

Jumpstart the Enjoyment

Just like that, it’s over. Christmas is behind us.

A local radio station that’s been playing holiday music since November 15th at 3pm (I know because, ahem, I tuned in for the start) is back to playing regular tunes — but they’re easing us into things. Every other song is still a Christmas favorite, thank God.

Something about this year felt less Christmassy than others. The last one that really felt like I was in the midst of the holidays was two years ago. Two years ago, I was halfway to 70. What a thought.

Was that my turning point? Is it all downhill now? Will each subsequent Christmas feel more like any other day of the year?

I don’t think so. Not on my watch, anyway.

This year was a unique one. Two rescue cats meant that a Christmas tree wouldn’t be an option, unless I wanted to have a toppled pine and broken ornaments everywhere. I’ll pass.

Temperatures in the 80s on Christmas day never help to put anyone in the holiday spirit, but as per last night’s post, for the sake of others I’m grateful for the beautiful weather we had.

I took fewer vacation days this year to get into the holiday spirit. Wait, correction. I took zero vacation days. Hm.

I didn’t venture down to Newport Beach for the boat parade like I have in years past.

Note to self: when something’s off, look back at your records and see what made it right, what made it good — what made it happen. While nothing can ever be recreated exactly, there might be other things you can slot into their place to help jumpstart the enjoyment. Since Christmas was a tad blue instead of red and green, maybe I could’ve baked more. Perhaps I should’ve taken more walks to behold the twinkling lights, or spent some time on the sofa reading the good book and reflecting on the ultimate gift.  Maybe I could’ve visited Santa, although sitting on an adult’s lap as an adult seems a bit…creepy.

In all seriousness, there are a lot of things we can do to jumpstart our enjoyment. If life is lacking, find a new leaf to turn over. If travel has been more scarce than you’d have liked, pick a spot on the map and start saving for it. If enthusiasm is lacking, borrow the perspective of a child — go to a playground or a park and take in the sights, sounds and smells in a new way. Conversely, you could also borrow the perspective of a homeless or underprivileged child to see how good you have it.

How good we all have it.

Tonight I am thankful for knowing that no matter how different and transitional Christmas may feel to me, the power to get its magic back is in my hands — the same way it’s been all along. For the ability to jumpstart the enjoyment in any area of my life at any time, I am thankful.

The Rain Wish

I arrived home from Christmas day festivities at 11:11pm, and it was 70 degrees outside. A warm wind had been blowing for almost 24 hours, and it felt like it should be any season other than winter.

Back in the ’90s, I remember appreciating warm Christmases when I’d come home from college in Michigan; something about being able to get a tan in December made me excited to ditch the snow shovel and ice scraper for a few weeks, but these days we’re doing good if we can get below 60 and see a few scattered clouds on Christmas.

Someone told me this December was predicted to be more wet and rainy than any other we’ve seen for a long time. False. Completely false. Maybe Mother Nature lost track of time and she’ll deliver in January. I can hope.

I remember vividly that the end of 2010 was incredibly wet. It rained for two straight weeks and I’d taken time off from work to be home so I could enjoy the holidays. Constant precipitation + jammies till as late in the day as I pleased meant I was in heaven.

Driving home tonight, I longed for those days again. Then I thought about the people on the streets who know it’s Christmas yet have nothing to their name. I thought about how inclement weather would simply have been adding insult to injury for them.

I thought about the footage I’d seen on the news earlier tonight of volunteers feeding the homeless at a rescue mission, and lines of underprivileged children waiting patiently for their chance to go inside and pick out some toys for Christmas.

I thought about how much more bleak of a day it could’ve been had the rain been its usual, difficult self. Perhaps the sun was exactly as it should’ve been — warm and reassuring, smiling and instilling a sense of hope and optimism to those down on their luck who could use a bit of sunshine.

Having a helping hand on Christmas is a welcome sight to many, but today I am thankful they also got their dose of stereotypical California to brighten their lives on a day when we remember the reason for the season.

Many are those who light up others’ lives, but today Mother Nature provided the ultimate light, as well as warmth and a break from the cold that so many know all too well — literally, and figuratively. For them, I’m happy to give up my wish for rain.

Merry Christmas, everyone.