Gratitudes + Beatitudes: Odd Things I’m Grateful For

So, I guess Jupiter entered my astrological sign this fall. Astrologically, Jupiter is the planet of expansion, philosophy, higher learning and just that exciting energy of absorbing and growing and learning. And boy did I get all Jupiteresque in my life this fall: I decided to take a novel-writing course, ramp up my riding lessons, join a Monday-night bowling league…and now I decided at the last minute to do Nanowrimo! Where did I get my crazy pills and why did I take them all at once?

It’s all tremendously fun, but the Nanowrimo-ing is definitely eating into my blogging time. So, in honor of November, I decided I would “focus” and do a series on gratitude, in honor of my favorite holiday feast of the year. People on my Facebook are giving thanks every day leading up to Thanksgiving, and while that’s all cool and I like reading them, I can’t really deal with Facebook so I’m doing it here. Some will be expected in their earnestness, and hopefully other gratitudes will be eccentric and unexpected. Anyway, onward and upward…six things I’m grateful for, one for each day of the month so far.

MY CAR

A car is a strange thing for me to be grateful, because I’m really all for public transportation and have been for much of my life. I didn’t even have a car until this past year. But now I am thankful for my wonky little white Grand Am, not just what utility it provides in my life, but because it’s my favorite place to hear music, and it’s kind of become my other room where I can store my riding things, gym bag, old clothes and weird things that don’t fit in my apartment. But more importantly, my car was given to me by one of my sisters, so every time I drive it, I try to remember that it’s also a symbol of my family’s generosity with one another, which is always a good thing to remember and be thankful for.

MAIL SERVICE

The other day in the mail I got a check, a letter, a free book via Paperback Swap, a magazine and a postcard. I felt very much like “Score!”, which is always a good feeling to have in your everyday life, and one that I think we’ve lost over the years, now that everything is electronic. If you think about it, it’s kind of amazing that mail service even exists in the first place, bringing you objects from all over the world right to your doorstep. So, mail service, thank you for making it like not-Christmas-but-kind-of-Christmas every now and then, and for being the conduit for many odd, sometimes marvelous things, including weird coupons, trashy catalogs and misdirected mail that makes me indulge in odd speculation over the hobbies of my neighbors.

WEIRD QUESTIONS THAT CHILDREN ASK

It’s fun being the crazy auntie because your nephews and nieces aren’t scared to ask you the questions they’re dying to ask but other adults around them avoid. Questions like: “When you die, are we still related?” or “Does God watch me when I’m pooping?” or “Why are people scared of boobies?” I’m thankful for the opportunity to drop some serous concepts on them, like reincarnation, the panopticon and patriarchy, well before they’re old enough to really get them. It also allows me to indulge in my odd fantasy of writing children’s books on feminism and post-structuralism, with titles like “Don’t Be Scared, They’re Just Boobs.” Mostly I just give them straightforward answers to their queries, and then I get into trouble later. But that’s kind of fun as well, because then I get to explain the ideas of panopticon and patriarchy to their parents!

COMPUTERS

Oh my god, can you imagine trying to blog BY HAND? Or freaking typing out a novel on a typewriter? Or doing Nanowrimo with just a pen and a spiral notebook? Imagine how long it would take to validate your word count! Seriously, though, every time I want to throw my computer out the window because it’s pissing me off, I try to remember just how much in my life computers have possible: art, friendship, communication, jobs, kitten videos. I’m still pissed off, but it keeps me from inflicting extraordinary levels of violence upon inanimate objects.

HOT TUBS

I remember my first memory of a hot tub. It was the 1980s, and I was over at my friend Becky’s house. Becky lived with her divorced father without any brothers and sisters, which I always found a rather mystical, interesting, almost glamorous situation. Becky’s dad had a Tom Selleck-like mustache, and he was fond of popping the collars on his polo shirts, which I also found really strange yet fascinating. (Wow, I was easily intrigued as a 7-year-old, wasn’t I? I must’ve been more sheltered than I thought.)

Becky’s dad installed a hot tub in their basement, and I remember we went down to look at it once. It was surrounded by empty bottles of wine coolers, and a bikini top was strewn off to the side. Becky held it up and we went “Ewwwwwwww!!!!” and ran upstairs and threw it in the garbage. I mean, we didn’t know what happened down there in the hot tub, but WE KNEW. I could never really look at Becky’s dad straight in the eye after that, and hot tubs became associated with divorced-dad-having-a-midlife-crisis sex in my mind for a long time. Which is kind of ewww-inducing, and ever since, it’s been like, “You’re a divorced dad? My ovaries just shriveled up!”

Luckily I got over that. Now I’m grateful for hot tubs, especially the ones at my gym, because they’re nice stopgaps in between massages, and I swear I’d have shoulder and neck problems if it wasn’t for hot water jets’ relaxation powers. But God help me if I ever go on a date with a divorced dad who tries to wrangle my bikini top off while plying me with Bartles & Jaymes.

MY PARENTS

Okay, parents are not such an odd thing to be grateful for. I mean, how can we not be thankful for the people who give you life? My parents raised me, made sure I didn’t die from stupidity and somehow love me in ways both perfect and imperfect everyday, even when I am a knucklehead. They also let me use their laundry machines, feed me copious amounts of food when I come over, take my car to get its oil changed because I’m scared of talking to mechanics, give me bowling tips from their heyday as champions of the sport in the 70s, hug me when I am sad, re-pot my plants and guilt me into various things that I know I should do but avoid. In all my teenage arrogance, they once seemed to me to be really boring, but now I realize they are the humblest, wisest, gentlest people I know, with extraordinary compassion and acceptance. What would I do without my mom and dad? A lot, probably, but only about 40 percent of it would be anything good.

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