I have a new boyfriend.
OK, OK, I’m getting ahead of myself; you caught me.
I would like to have a new boyfriend. But I have competition.
His name is Andy and he’s the most popular guy in Kentucky. He’s smart. He cares. He can dress up or he can dress down, but his side hair part never changes.
He’s strict that way.
With all of this rain (and, argh, not snow) this winter, it’s made life feel a little dreary these days, am I right? But last week, I listened to a podcast that instantly made me feel lighter. It was from the show This American Life, which I listen to regularly not just because I have a huge crush on Ira Glass, but because I always come away from an episode feeling broadened.
Anyways, this episode was called “The Show of Delights,” which stemmed from The Book of Delights, written by Ross Gay. For a year, Gay committed to looking for and writing about delight each day, which resulted in truly beautiful essays. Here’s an excerpt from one called “Flower in the Curb:”
“The gold is like a corona around the petals, and there are a few flecks throughout, the way people will have freckles in their eyes or glints of lightning in their pupils. And beside this flower, or kin with it, growing from the same stem as the blazing, is an as-yet-unwrapped bud, greenish with the least hint of yellow, shining in the breeze, on the verge, I imagine, of exploding.”
Last Saturday, I found myself in the Burton Cummings Theatre singing my heart out. Beside me stood my best friend Kristin, sipping on a Stella, wearing a hip pair of mom jeans, and deeply dedicated to belting out:
The do’s were the result of Kristin having bought us tickets for Choir! Choir! Choir!, an interactive sing-along led by Toronto-based musicians Daveed Goldman and Nobu Adilman. We’d spent the first half of the show singing songs written by Manitoba-born artists and bands: Randy Bachman, Tal Bachman, The Weakerthans, The Crash Test Dummies, and, of course, The Guess Who.
The goal of the second half of the show was to prepare a harmonized version of the famous Guess Who song “These Eyes,” which would be videotaped and then sent to Burton.
At 5:46 p.m. yesterday, I found myself talking to myself in my car, hand gestures and all. Despite having parked in a lot that had seemed mostly abandoned, every few seconds, a car would pull in or a person would walk by and I’d have to stop talking and look like I was casually looking at my phone.
While I was relieved I hadn’t become so crazy that I was willing to let people see me talking to myself, I will say my stress level was 100 percent high. In 44 minutes, I was giving a presentation to a room full of pre-med students about how to edit their personal statements.
I knew two things going in. One, my material was solid: helpful, time-tested, applicable not just to their personal statements, but all writing. But two, that I am not famous for my public speaking skills.
My Valentine’s Day card game is strong this year. I mean, I really picked a winner: clean, simple but elegant, sweet message. Just right in that Goldilocks kind of way.
Why the success? I had a coupon for $2 off V-Day cards from Kroger and I was afraid I would forget about it — “it” being the coupon, not the Valentine —so I went in January.
Not that romantic, perhaps, but I think we’ll agree on two things.
One, greeting cards have become shockingly pricey. If you’re not careful, you’re spending $8.99, which, even if it is for love, is $8 too much for me.
And two, successful Valentine’s selection requires some planning ahead. It’s a desperate day when you throw yourself into Kroger’s card aisle and all you see is a sea of empty pink envelopes, am I right?
Every winter, my passion for cooking intensifies, and it’s usually around this time, right at the beginning of February, that I fall in love the hardest. I discover new spices. I resume my ardent affair with my cookbooks. I research ingredient availability. And every night as we sit down to dinner, with the kitchen steamy, my fingers smelling like garlic, I feel a soul-deep satisfaction.
Happily, I’ve picked up a few tricks this year that have made my cooking life even happier. I’d love to share these with you.
A few months ago, one of my friends admitted that she hates winter. It’s not the first time I’ve heard the complaint, and I do understand it. It’s cold, after all. It’s mostly brown and dead. And, for those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder, all of it can be become rather depressing.
But, in Kentucky, winter is my favorite season. In turn, I decided to send my sweet, smart friend a list of reasons as little pick-me-ups as she fights her way to spring. It’s occurred to me this list might be useful to you, too. So, here we go:
On a daily basis, the only times I speak to another person are in the morning when I wish my husband a good day and at night when he returns. Of course, I’m constantly talking (and singing) to the doggies, but as much as I’ve petitioned for it, they aren’t yet classified as “people.”
I was musing about this with my husband last night, and he pointed out that my writing day might be a bit chattier if I actually left the house. He then painted a picture of me in a coffee house, sitting in a quaint corner, typing away on my laptop, until someone I knew walked in.
“Think of the writing material you could gather just observing people around you,” he said. “Think of how nice it would be to run into someone you know and actually have a conversation. In the middle of the day.”
Immediately, I did think about it. I imagined myself sitting in the chair, looking out the window, words suddenly spilling out of me and onto my screen, so inspired was I to be in the real world instead of closed up in the basement.
I went to bed last night already feeling re-energized.
But then, I woke up.
Listen. I promised you a long time ago I would never write about my dreams, since, whenever anyone starts telling me about one of theirs, I have to fight hard to stay awake.
But I’ve gotta tell ya.
Lately, I think I’ve earned a master’s degree in conjuring stressful scenarios in my sleep. Sometimes I wake up and I’m actually impressed.
A few weeks ago, I was walking back to my car after a not-fun errand at Walmart. I looked at the sky, which was grey, and then I looked at the pavement, which was grey. I walked faster as I approached my car, which is white.
But then I looked more closely at it. There was grey there too, around my bumper, just around the wheel well. I bent over and saw a long series of nicks — almost like a zipper — in the paint job, ones so deep they had removed the paint.
I looked around, wondering if this had just happened. But what kind of vehicle could have caused this kind of injury? It wasn’t a case of someone rubbing it as they pulled out, as that would have caused a dent and a scrape. But these were nicks, almost like cuts.
At that moment, I decided two things:
- Somehow, some way, I must have done this to my car, though I had no memory of it.
- I was going to wait until my stepdad Peter arrived for Christmas before I said anything to my husband about it.