Thursday, November 28, 2013

Photographic Evidence of the Many Things I Have to be Thankful For

This post is super cliche, but I often forget to be thankful for things.  I forget that I am lucky.  I have to remind myself sometimes, and today is as good a day as any.  A few years ago, my sister asked me what I was most thankful for that year (actually, she was asking me what was the best thing that had happened to me all year - my sister's not that cheesy*), and I couldn't think of anything.  Not one thing!  Struck by how pathetic and sad that was, I told myself to be more aware of the good things I had in my life and the good people surrounding me.  I told myself to notice and remember the little things, like the way dogs sometimes wag their tail so hard their whole body shakes, or like the time I saw a burly, bearded guy on a motorcycle pull over to gently pick up a turtle from the middle of the road and deposit it into the safe grass.  The smallest but unparalleled moment disguised as ordinary life.  I hadn't let myself acknowledge the good in people, the good in the world, for a very long time.  But now that I have, it's kind of everywhere.

*My sister's answer to her own question was "Going to see the New Kids on the Block/Backstreet Boys concert."  Don't judge, you know you're jealous.

A couple of years ago, I was the loneliest I have ever been.  I was alone and away at school, living in an empty suite, and going to and from class, often going days without speaking to anyone.  I missed having things in common with people, missed not being the only person who wasn't interested in going out on Friday nights.  I wanted someone to spend time with and laugh with.  I would hear the girl across the hall laughing with her boyfriend and my throat would swell up with something a little like hope and a lot like envy.  When I came back to the dorm at night, the room would feel frustratingly empty, and I had basically resigned myself to the fact that I would become a cat lady.  

Then I found Jared.  One night on Facebook, thank God for the age of technology. :)  I finally found someone with the same sense of humor, the same morals and values.  To him, nothing is funnier than Will Ferrell, and no Friday night is better spent than staying at home playing each other in Wii Tennis.  He is more patient with me than I am with myself, and when I ask him to please bring me a PopTart, he does it without complaint.  He didn't think it was stupid when I asked him why the Vikings couldn't play the Hawkeyes (okay, maybe a little), and he didn't roll his eyes when I wanted our wedding to be vintage-style and centered around birds.  We call each other "love" because that's what we are in.  I couldn't ask for anything else.  This is what I am thankful for.

I don't have a picture here to insert, and someone would inevitably complain that they didn't look good enough or something, so that's okay.  I take my family entirely for granted, and here is not the place to wax poetic about how much I love them.  But I will say this:  My mom is awesome.  She likes books better than people (me too!), and I used to think her nightly baths were some magical ritual of some kind.  High school through college, my fists were clenched tight and so was my heart, and my mom helped me peel my fingers away from my fists and relax - she can fix nearly any broken thing.  My mom and dad go to the movies every week, and while my mom reads a book before the show, my dad falls asleep, both of them under a shared blanket.  My dad waits on me hand and foot even though I am nearly 24, and when I am sick, they both come help me.  My sister taught me what it is to be strong, and also the merits of Robyn, Parks and Recreation, and 80s movies.  My brother makes me look bad because he's so goddamn selfless, and his fart jokes are exactly on par with my own.  My sister-in-law is consistently patient and upbeat, and my niece Audrey is the smartest 3-almost-4-year-old I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  This is what I am thankful for.

The Animals in my Life

Lucy and Roxie, Jared's grandparent's dogs, are the most amazing and smart dogs ever.  They make my dog look like an idiot.  Roxie isn't even one year old yet, and she acts like she's been trained for years.  Aren't they gorgeous?!  Bella and Oscar, my mother-in-law's dogs, are very sweet as well, and I love them to death.  I am also thankful beyond words for the shelter dogs/cats I have been blessed to know.  They have changed me for the better in so many ways, and I know everyone says this and it's super annoying, but if I could take them all home, I really really would.  I want to see them all go to the awesome homes they deserve.  I am also very thankful to the amazing staff that cares for them and makes them feel at home rather than in a kennel, as well as the volunteers who take time out of their busy lives to socialize with them.

My Riley is the most fellow-dog-hating, walk-loving, treat-obsessed old man of a dog that I have ever met.  He loves Jared way more than he loves me, and he is constantly waiting and whining at the door for "Daddy" to come home.  He lays on our necks while we sleep and lives in absolute terror of the ice machine.  This is what I am thankful for.

Purse Full O' Pills
Although I hate taking the 9-10 pills daily, although they get mixed up and confusing in my brain, although sometimes the side effects make me feel like crap...I am still thankful that my purse resembles a traveling pharmacy.  Without this medicine, I would barely be able to leave the house.  It makes me able to live my life and enjoy doing so.  This is what I am thankful for.

Harry Potter
(photo from here, but really, don't visit this website - it's all about how Harry Potter is about witchcraft and, thus, SIN.)
This is silly, but my GOD, I love Harry Potter.  It is one of the few things I can watch when I'm not feeling well that can make me feel almost back to normal again (also Ratatouille, Enchanted, and SpongeBob SquarePants).  Words can't even express how happy these movies make me.  Also, I'm in love with Snape. This is what I am thankful for.

Warm Pajamas!
Our heater is broken, and has been since last December.  Sometimes we wake up and it is 48 degrees in our house.  So footie pajamas are my best friend.  Footie pajamas + my heated mattress = a perfect temperature for sleeping.  Fortunately, we are getting a new heater on Monday, so here's hoping for a warmer December this year!  These warm, cozy Sock Monkey feet?  This is what I am thankful for.

(90s throwback books FTW!)
On the show Modern Family, the nerdy daughter Alex says, "You're never alone when you have books."  Which, of course, got played off as a hilarious joke, haha, let's all make fun of the geeky girl, but seriously?  How true is this?!  On a weekend, when most people my age are out at a bar or a friend's house, you will find me at home in my pajamas, reading a book.  And honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way.  I grew up in the library.  Literally.  While my mom shelved and alphabetized, stamped and re-covered books, I would sit in a corner, book in my lap and thumb stuck resolutely in my mouth.  I passed up after-school clubs and sports to go across the street and be surrounded by the musty smell of paper and ink, kept quiet by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and a baggie full of dry Cap'n Crunch.  When I hit middle school, my mom paid me five dollars an hour to "help" her out after school.  I would reorganize shelves of R.L. Stein books, empty out the dropbox, and hide from people I knew when they came in to search for a book.  I fancied myself to be very sophisticated, and I imagined a day when I would take off my glasses and shake out my pinned-back hair like the seductive, pencil-skirted librarians in movies.  I loved the idea of being a third-generation "Marian the Librarian", and no amount of papercuts or tiny-print-induced headaches was gonna stop me.  Books are my vice, my stress-reliever.  This is what I am thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


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