Archive for the 'Hope and Gratitude' Category

Black Ribbon

.: black ribbon:::ruban noir:.I noticed Google posted the Black Ribbon on its homepage today.  I didn’t know what it meant, and when they have ribbons they also usually have links, so I Google’d it.

Turns out, Google generally only posts the Black Ribbon after a devastating event.  Seems this time it was to commemorate 5 years since Katrina.  So, in the the last minute of the day, a moment of silence to respect the tragedy, to show homage to those who died, and to honour those who have rebuilt their lives.

A toast, mes amis, to New Orleans.

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Admiring Fledglings

If I Eat Pencil, You Cans Not Write.

I got to do my favourite thing at work tonight, and nothing and nobody could stop me.

Once a year, we get these books to photocopy from a local elementary school.  It’s part of a program called WII (and I don’t remember what it stands for, only that it has nothing to do with wars or video games).  Through this, fifth graders write and illustrate (through paper-making, and cut & paste) their own books.  I was in Advanced English in fifth grade, and I remember doing the project.  I don’t for the life of me know where the book went (I suspect my mother is hiding it) but it was called “Jonathan and the Magical Easter Eggs”.  … Yes.  I’ve always been a sucker for the unreal.

I love photocopying this job, because it’s a slow process, and it gives me time to read the books and admire the illustrations.  Some of the kids touch me – there was one dedication that read “I dedicate this to my Oma, who has been battling cancer for two years”.  So sad, and sweet.  And sad.  And some of the kids make me giggle.  One boy wrote a story about being able to make his parents disappear… and of all the things in the world he could do, he went to the beach.  Oh, and no worries, he was lonely at the end, so he made his parents come back.

Aside from simply being adorable, these books give me hope.  Why?  Because out of every batch of twenty, there will be one child that decides to write another story.  And another.  And another.  And a new generation of writers will be born.

“I’m Dappled and Drowsy And Ready For Sleep”

Between work and homework and a late-wake-up-morning, and allergies (just shoot me) it’s been a long day.  But not in all a bad day; namely a tiring one.  But there is always, always a silver lining.

This morning, whilst looking for my “photo of the day,” I found myself at a loss and turned once again to knick-knacks, of which I have many.  I closed in on the image you see above.  It’s a tree, with the branches made of wire and the leaves made from stones.  There used to be more of it, but I cut off one of the branches and gave it to a friend when I was younger.  I won this knick-knack in a raffle in sixth grade, and I saved up tickets for it for months.  I wanted it so very badly.  I was bidding for it against a friend, whom I liked, but not enough to just surrender.  In this end, obviously, I got it, and I cut off one of the branches and gave it to her.  My sixth grade teacher said she brought it from Brazil (where she had lived, briefly) and I think that the idea of owning something from a different continent allured me more than anything else, though the tree is truly lovely.  As you can see in the image, it has amassed a lot of dust over the last nine years, but it’s still one of my favourite knick-knacks.  Thinking about it and it’s simplistic beauty and middle school this morning made me happy.

This evening, I looked out the window at work shortly before sunset, and the sky was marvellous.  There were huge cumulus clouds perched in the sky, and they were tinted not just one colour, but a rainbow of colours.  The upper tips of the clouds were gold, and that faded down to a soft pink.  In front of them, there were splashes of darker cirrus clouds.  It was really beautiful, and they looked that was for nearly an hour.  I wanted to kick myself for not having my camera with me.  I wonder if anyone else noticed them?

The last few minutes of a night often present themselves with the greatest challenges.  After dealing with a few people who I’d rather punch than smile at, I was able to leave and I stepped, flustered, into the sticky, humid night.  My summer coolant is the driver’s side window rolled down (something’s wonky about the passenger’s side), so I impressed upon that and tried to position myself so the headlights of the impatient driver behind me weren’t in my eyes.  Even though the humidity and the bright lights bothered me, I was comforted by the music.  Usually, I don’t have a lot of faith in my Zen’s shuffle feature (it likes to play the same few songs every two or three songs) but tonight, it was great.  It started with “Echo Park” by Ryan Cabrera, a song that reminds me of the image of standing on a ledge by the ocean and feeling the wind in my hair.  Second was “To Life” from Fiddler on the Roof.  That song has many memories attache to it, all good.  Third was “Kodachrome” by Simon and Garfunkel.  The first line of that song always makes me grin: “when I think back on all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all.”  I sometimes feel that way about life in general.  Fourth, also Simon and Garfunkel, was “Feelin’ Groovy”.  The title of this entry comes from that song, as well as the telling line “slow down, you move to fast”.  A good reminder.  And as I pulled into my driveway, “Curve of the Earth” by Matt Nathanson, one of my top five favourite songs, came on.  So, after a long, flustered day… Zen- thank you for the music.

I had a peculiar dream last night that has been haunting me all day.  See, I never have recurring dreams, but I have a few very vivid recurring places and faces.  Last night’s dream was a recurring place and face.  I guess I’ve taken too many psychology classes, or maybe Inception still has me thinking about dreams… but I can’t get the images out of my head.  I can only remember glimpses, in bright, beautiful colour, and feelings.  Very few words, and definitely no “plot”.  I really enjoy dreaming because it gives me a beautiful world to escape into and harp on all day.  And, thank goodness, I rarely have nightmares.

Tonight, I hope that same dream visits me again; which it’s sunshiney neighborhood and the big grey house, the tall man with brown hair, and the fields of blueberry bushes.  In my dreams, I feel like a queen, and there’s nothing to bring me down or hold me back.  I am completely free.

What is Reality?

These last few days I have had an appropriate amount of domestic rural adventures, from driving in a thunderstorm to preventing a kitten from ripping my toes to shreds.  These things are all the little things that we often overlook as we let our lives consume us.  I am that person sometimes, too, but I work hard not to be.  I’ve had a few things on my mind, and seeing the film Inception last night keeps pushing thoughts about the little things forward more and more.

First, I’d like to talk about the movie.  I’m not going to go into too much depth because I don’t want to spoil it, but it does bring you to appreciate life and reality.  The things that are always there and the things that you can depend on.  The details.  For example, the movie itself- I’m sure a lot of people will be walking out of it thinking about the deeper meanings of it and how it is a reflection on the world and our perception of it, and so on and so forth.  I walked out of that movie thinking a few things.  One: “Holy crap, where did that thunderstorm come from?  Crap.  I have to drive in it.  And I left my windows down.  Craaaaap.” Two: “I don’t think I have a single bad thing to say about that film.  From the acting to the special effects to the plot… it was all really well done.” and Three: “What was the theme, anyway?  It’s supposed to be a deep thought movie like Momento, right?  So there must be a deeper theme….”

For those that are curious, I’ve decided that the theme was “what is reality?”  It’s kind of like The Matrix in that way.  Now, I’m sure there are others who derived a very different theme about it, and I would love to rationally discuss that theme (or those themes) as well.  But from my perception of the film, there were strong themes of “what is reality” and “what is dream” running through it.  And, in saying that, I don’t feel like I’m spoiling the film because dreams are a present theme in the commercials alone.

From the question “what is reality” we must ask ourselves… what is real?  What makes things believable?  For me, that is all the little things in the world.  The things that make our experiences our own.  We all may walk into a grocery store, but do you avoid walking through aisles packed with people (even if you desperately need something in that aisle) so you can stay out of peoples’ way?  Do you walk through the produce section and drool over all the berries and ultimately buy some, even though you know they’re out of season and they’ll be gone before you get home?  Do you hang out in the bakery for a few minutes just to smell the bread?  I do.  Things like that – little sights and smells and hopes and such – make the experience mine.

This week, I am going to try to stop and notice all the small things.  To stop and take a deep breath and appreciate the world as I run around.

Another thing that has inspired this thought process is a book I recently started reading.  It’s half for school, and half for research, since part of the reason I’m a History Major is to gather information about the world so I can use it in my writing.  The book is called Avengers of the New World by Laurent Dubois.  It tells the story of the Haitian Revolution and the world that led to it.  It’s for my Africans in the Colonial World class, basically a follow-up class to Atlantic History, which I took sophomore year.  Anyway.  I’m only 9o-pages into the book and there was a section all about culture and religion and the ways the Africans kept their customs alive in Saint-Dominique.  What do you do, when you’re lashed often for little to no reason, are not allowed to meet with other slaves… and even the free-coloureds kept having their rights lessened.  Heck, the thing that really annoys me is the “Liberty Tax” that white plantation owners had to pay when they freed a slave.  When you are in a position that most of the slaves (or any good person, really) where in, having their hands tied by the powerful few-and-far-between…the only thing you can do, once you’ve run out of options is to stop, see what there is for you in the world, and move forward.  Find the next path and renew yourself mentally, spiritually, and emotionally by the little things that have been driving you all along.

Today, a friend told me that whenever he hears “On The Dark Side” by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, he thinks of me, because I’m the only other person he’s ever met whose heard of the band.  It was a little thing, but it made me smile and lifted my spirits after six, seven hours of consistent photocopying, binding, and wanting to hit machines with a crowbar.  Has there been any little things in the world today that gave you the strength to move forward?  What are the things that you rely on daily to keep you grounded in this mad world?

Thank You (Now Get Out) – 7/13/10

So guys.  I’ve been a slacker this week and haven’t been keeping good notes, so everything this week is coming from memory.  Yikes!  So, what I remember of it (and if I don’t remember, it’s probably not worth my time, ja?)… the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Cruisin’ Through Confusion
Confusion comes in a few shapes; this last week, I saw it in two:  snobbery and panic.  Confusion tends to be rude because the answers are elusive, and it doesn’t have the patience to be confused.  Panic!Confusion was a woman who bustled into the store half and hour before closing, saying she needed UPS overnight.  There are a few problems with that, one simply being that our UPS wasn’t going to be picked up again until the next day’s afternoon… which wouldn’t fit in her schedule.  In explaining this to her, she said “I don’t understand” and “that doesn’t make sense” a lot.  I’m generally pretty good at explaining things, so after about seven tries, and me apologising that I couldn’t do her a favor… it’s not that I’m a terrible person, it’s that I can’t call up UPS central and tell them to send down an emergency truck, someone has to get something somewhere stat… after all that, she grumped off.  Snobbery!Confusion was similar in giving me angry/confused glares and interrupting in the middle of an explanation to declare “I don’t understand”.  There aren’t many ways I can explain that I can’t bleed off a page; the machines require a small margin and changing that is completely out of my control.  He stuck around to badger me long enough to hold three other people up in line and complain about the price (after I gave him a nice break).  Oh, and Snobbery!Confusion… don’t jump over my counter and grab stuff.  That’s really rude.  Honestly, though, I sometimes wonder if Confusion declares “I don’t understand” as a testier way of saying “I don’t like what I’m hearing.”

Sleaze
I received a phone call last night that went like this:

SLEAZE:  How much are your copies?
ME:  49-cents.
SLEAZE:  That’s outrageous.  That’s absolutely absurd.  That’s robbery, that’s what that is.
ME:  Well, sir, we can price match.
SLEAZE:  Excuse me?
ME:  Price-match.  Basically, if you find another brick and mortar store anywhere in the world that is making the same exact thing… same size, same materials… if you can get a photocopy or a print out of their price, we’ll match it for you.
SLEAZE:  What do you mean?  You mean you’ll match another store?
ME:  Yes, sir.  But it’s can’t be like, freecopiesonline.com, it has to be a brick-
SLEAZE:  That’s so sleazy.  You’re a sleazebag.
ME: I’m so-?
SLEAZE: *slams down phone*
ME: O.o

Yep.  Um, I’m not trying to sound cynical, I’m genuinely asking here… doesn’t every store in the world price-match?  I’m not just talking, like, copies.  I mean everything.  If WalMart has Joe’s Sausage for $4.99, but Price Chopper has that same package of Joe’s Sausage for $3.99… don’t they price match?  Is what we’re doing so evil?  …  Besides, we’re not telling you to ditch the other store.  And I don’t make the guidelines.  Sleaze really bummer me out last night.  I mind his name calling and accusations less than him hanging up in my ear, though.

Hey, ‘Sup?
This guy was featured week of June 22, but I’m bringing him back again, because I really want to underline his progress.  Recently, there was a lot of drama in this guy’s life.  He redefined the phrase “the shit hit the fan”.  Last night, he was practically giddy.  I don’t think he’d like me using that word, but it’s true.  He was smiling, laughing, helping, having good conversation.  Whatever high road he’s on, I hope that he stays there for a while.  It’s true that a smile rubs off, if you’re open to letting it.  It was sure nice to see him smile last night.

BFG
Unlike Roald Dahl’s BFG, this Big Friendly Giant lets  people see his “friendly” as infrequently as possible.  Granted, this may be because I generally see him in a situation where he is unhappy, so he’s more of a Big Grumpy Giant.  But I learned something about him a few days ago that touched me.  He’s getting married in the fall, and he’s selling his motorcycle to help pay for the honeymoon.  He loves that motorcycle, and I was touched by his gesture.  It seemed like a really selfless thing to do.

A Need for Public Phones
There’s this guy who comes in every once and a while.  He makes me really uncomfortable.  He’s just a really dirty person.  He smells, and he looks very obviously dirty and decrepit.  And no.  He’s not homeless.  He waves big bills around like crazy.  He decided to come in and use the telephone on our fax machine to make a personal call.  We usually don’t mind, as long as people make it quick, since it ties up the fax machine.  This time, though, he was using the phone for an hour.  And there was a line for the fax machine (of course, right?).  We were trying to thin out the line… when… shazaam!  Our incoming fax machine broke.  We fought with it for about half an hour before giving up and throwing it away.  Meanwhile, there’s a line of angry people who want their faxes sent.  Public Phones won’t get off the phone.  And we can’t ask him to leave, because technically he’s not doing anything wrong.  Even though he’s a non-paying customer holding up paying customers.  So we’re stuck.  Getting fussed at from the people waiting in line while we try to set up a new fax machine for incoming faxes.  Getting fussed at by Public Phones, who doesn’t like being rushed.  Yarr.  Sometimes, you can’t win.

That’ll be all of interest or consequence that I can remember.  Three really frustrating things in the last six-seven days, not too bad.  I hope everyone else has had a fabulous week, full of delightful people.  And hey, if you’ve got any shining angels, I’d love to hear about them!  Share your stories: good, bad, and ugly.

P.S.  I just learned the difference between motels and hotels.  Motels you enter your room from the outside, hotels from the inside.  Learn something new every day.

All’s Quiet on the Eastern Front

Sunset in Albany

The weekend is winding down to an end.  Out my window, I can see the golden clouds of Sunday’s sunset.  Still beautiful, touched by the magic in this world that all too often we forget exists.  It’s so easy to run about busy when we should stop every once and a while to look at the sky, trace leaves as they sit on the trees, and to pet the friendly dog that it pattering by.  These last few hours I have been breathing softly and still, living and relishing in this beautiful world and being grateful for the moments in my life that allow my to kick my shoes off and lean back and try to guess what shapes the clouds are taking.  What a wonderful weekend!

I rarely have the opportunity to relax.  Even when I have time off, I have projects.  Some projects are self-inflicted.  Others are assigned.  One way or the other, even in my “free time,” I am occupied (or at least I am supposed to be) and so I spend my free time procrastinating and begging my overheating computer for another excuse to put off the inevitable.  But not this weekend.  When you’re separated from your resources, you have no choice but to sit back, relax, and be grateful.  On Friday, I saw Despicable Me and it made me smile from it’s cuteness and creativity.  The characters were round (unusually so for a children’s film) and it was a movie equally enjoyable for adults and children.  It was cool to see the threate filled with all ages- you don’t get that a lot.  And I also spent the last couple days at Bryan’s house.  No internet, no phone calls… I didn’t even bring a book (pure accident, I assure you.  I was frantically digging through my purse this morning, seeking Scarlet.)

It was really nice to have the house to ourselves.  Nowhere to go, nowhere to be… nobody demanding our attention (except a kitten, who was mostly a pleasure to play with anyway).  We were able to curl up, talk about whatever we wanted, do whatever we wanted.  Bryan made a scrumptious steak that was marinated for a week (yes, I know, it sounds like overkill, but if you had tasted it, you wouldn’t think so) and we started watching this really awful movie called “Vegas in Space”.  We got about five minutes in to this ridiculous, B-rated, 1980s (at the latest) sci-fi murder mystery before it stopped being funny and started being painful.  It was still a lot of fun, though.  And it’s nice to be able to escape and burrow away with someone who loves you even when you look like Medusa when you wake up in the morning.

The clouds in the eastern sky are bright pink now, and the neighbors on the lake are starting to shoot off fireworks.  I think it’s time for me to bury my head into my writing and lose the rest of my weekend to comfort.

If only every weekend could be so simple and welcoming.

Thank You (Now Get Out) – 07/06/10

Nate in the Window

Due to the ungodly temperature of my bedroom and the burning sensation of my laptop on my lap, this week’s edition is going to be brief.  Although there were many I could nitpick at, I’m going to choose my two top, and my two most disappointing.  Ready?  Here goes:

Coach
I have talked to Coach twice this week and done work for him.  He has been very patient with me and listened to everything I said and been willing to compromise, especially on Independence Day when he came in with a large job for me to do.  I could definitely tell he saw me as a human, and not as a bumblebee, and I appreciated it.  He was also light-hearted and made our work together fun, instead of painful.

Your Fax Is Broken
You know, it’s really difficult to be on the phone and do anything.  So.  I’m not really sure you think you can send a fax while you’re talking on the phone line that it’s using.  I’m just saying, is all.  So for goodness sake, please don’t yell at me for the fax not going through- my machine is working just fine. Maybe you should hang up the phone?  Why are you on two phones at once, anyway?

Double Trouble
Saw him three times in the last two days and we can just banter back and forth.  It’s fun, and he comes into the store a lot, but I’ve never been able to just banter back and forth like that.  He expected a lot of me, but he expected it on my time, and not on his.  Again, I was recognised as a human being, which really earns top points in my book.  And I love how this guy knows my name, even though I rarely work with him.  Most people don’t take the time to get to know you.

Move Along
I’m sorry that the store is closing early today.  It’s a holiday, these things happen.  Me?  I’d like to be sitting by a pool or eating barbecue today.  I have warned you, nicely, that we are closing soon.  I’ve offered my own time and resources to help you get done what you need to get done.  Please don’t yell at me for being kind.  And please, don’t refuse to leave just to make me miserable for telling you the store is closing soon.  I didn’t make the rules.  As far as I’m concerned, you shouldn’t be making copies of your bank statements on a holiday anyway, you should be with your family.  Oh yeah.  And when I tell you we don’t stock something, I’m not lying, and I’m not hiding it from you.  You don’t have to ask everyone else you see.  It’s really not available.

Well.  That’s about it for me- I want to shut my laptop down and go have some Lucky Charms (dinner of champions, my friends).  Did you run into someone this week that made your day?  How about somebody who ruined it?  I’d love to hear all about it!


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something to think about

"You know, I don't know if you'll understand this or not, but sometimes, even when I'm feeling very low, I'll see some little thing that will somehow renew my faith. Something like that leaf, for instance - clinging to its tree despite wind and storm. You know, that makes me think that courage and tenacity are about the greatest values a man can have. Suddenly my old confidence is back and I know things aren't half as bad as I make them out to be. Suddenly I know that with the strength of his convictions a man can move mountains, and I can proceed with full confidence in the basic goodness of my fellow man. I know that now. I know it." ~ End of Act I in the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

competing for the house cup

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