The fog has lifted. The sky above my head doesn't look so dark. I won't lie to you and say life is all rainbows and bluebirds, but it's certainly not the tornadoes and pigeon droppings it was a few weeks ago.
I feel like me again.
Even last week when fate or karma or just plain bad luck dealt me two more bad events, I didn't completely freak out. When my phone rang Monday and it was Jason telling me he had been in yet another car accident, but that he was okay, I took it pretty well. Two days later when Ainsley's school called to say she had an accident at gym and they believed she had a concussion, I was relatively calm. To get two calls at work in one week with words "accident" in the first sentence, I think I have done rather well.
This could be because we've had such a run of bad luck that nothing really surprises me anymore, or that I am so used to unpleasant things happening that this is the norm. Or it could be that I have found a way to navigate the bad stuff with a few simple joys that turn my frown maybe not upside down, but at least into something more like a straight line.
Some of you commented either on the blog or to me privately about things you do to make yourself happy. Here are the things I've turned to these past two weeks to raise myself up out of the doldrums.
I'm not really a stress eater. I'm truly not. If anything, I lose my appetite when I'm overly stressed. But it's amazing how something good to eat can lift my spirits.
I like to cook, but I don't always like to eat my own food. If I spend too much time preparing something, I really want no part of it when it's on the table.
But well-done food that I don't have to cook or clean up after...ahh, glorious.
One day during my trip to Bluesville, a co-worker stopped down to tell me she had won lunch at Chipotle for ten, and would I like to be in on that? Yes. Yes, I would. There is something beautiful about a free burrito bol at school, where we usually can't get anything decent to eat from the outside world. I was on a beans-and-rice high the rest of the day. One of my late-afternoon students even asked me why I was so chipper. The answer? Green chile and tomatillo salsa.
I swear there's healing power in a crispy chicken wing spun in hot sauce from Buffalo Wild Wings (especially when you chase the wing with an ice cold draft.) Or a piece of double-pepperoni pan pizza from LaRosa's (with the extra layer of pepperoni on top of the cheese so it gets nice and browned.) Or a Holland cream donut from the new little country bakery about 10 minutes away, eaten on a sunny Saturday morning with a cup of fresh-ground coffee.
Healthy? No. But I don't do this every day. Which is why it's such a special, enjoyable treat when I do.
Modern Family and Glee
TV has (sadly) always been a joy. But there's something different about these two new shows. They make me laugh out loud without the cringing that The Office so often causes or the snarky after-taste left behind by 30 Rock.
Modern Family is quite possibly the best, truest family sitcom I've watched since I started my own little modern family. These people are hilarious, but never mean-spirited. They fight, they get into ridiculous situations (but not so ridiculous you can't believe these things could happen), they make up by jumping fully-clothed into the family swimming pool. And then, in the tradition of shows like Scrubs, they have those serious moments of genuine emotion that make you stop laughing just long enough to feel the love.
Glee is just...gleeful. I'd like to say it reminds me of my own days as a choir girl geek, but our musical choices weren't nearly as fun. I walk away from every episode with a song stuck in my head. This is a good thing, though. I never thought that a show choir version of "Golddigger" or
"Take a Bow" could lift my spirits so and make me dance around the living room.
The Company of Four-Footed, Furry Creatures
My interactions with that cat we used to have are no longer so pleasant. When I show up at mom's for any reason, Scout takes off and hides because she associates me with a trip to the vet and a thermometer probed into a private area.
My sister, though, has two new puppies. The first was by choice, the second by chance. I'll be the first to tell you I am not a dog person, exactly, but watching two small bundles of energy chase each other, and curl up in your lap, and just generally overwhelm you with impossible cuteness...how can you be stressed when a baby Cavalier spaniel rests its head on your knee?
Last But Not Least...My Funny, Wonderful Kid
Being a mom is frustrating and worrisome and full of scares (like getting a phone call that an ambulance is taking your kid to the hospital.) But balanced with all that is a joy that's hard to believe.
Sometimes it's the things she says, the little nuggets of Ainsley-wisdom that show me that a child's way of looking at the world is both naive and wise. Sometimes its her silliness, the way she's often happy just to be seven and shows it by oretending to be a puppy or dancing to her favorite song or jumping up and down over a batch of cookies or a new Phineas and Ferb.
More and more it's because at seven I can see who she really is and the adult she's going to be. I see both Jason and I in her, which is narcisistically wonderful. But she's her own person, too, a person who defies any resemblance to either parental unit. She is herself. She is Ainsley.
Here's how my kid has made me smile lately:
She loves chicken wings as much as I do and pounded a suprising number at Buffalo Wild Wings on our last trip. She got up and started dancing the day I first played my Glee soundtrack CD as soon as "Bust Your Windows" came on. When she was on "brain rest" following the concussion, she begged to be able to read and to write letters. As soon as I thought it was okay, she curled up on the couch with a book and then went to her notebook to write letters to all her friends about her ride in the ambulance. She does math packets left over from first grade just for fun. She taught herself cursive one rainy Saturday by looking at a cursive alphabet that came with a journal she got for her birthday, but because she hasn't learned cursive in school yet, this is forbidden fruit and she enjoys it secretly as such. She has been going around the house singing the Beatles song "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" because it was stuck in Jason's head after a night playing Beatles Rock Band and asked to listen to the Abbey Road CD in the car this week. (Yes, it's a jaunty tune about a serial killer that no 7-year-old should be in love with, but c'mon. It's the Beatles.) She is equal parts a thinker and a partier, a geek and a diva, a scholar and a goof-off. She's everything I didn't even know I needed in my life.
She's my joy.
Dark days will return, as they always seem to do. I am a gloomy type of person, especially as the calendar flips from summer to fall and fall to dreary winter. The good mood I'm in right now, November 11, could be gone tomorrow morning and despair in its place. But Ainsley will sing me a song, or write me a letter, or wax philosophic on how the country-parodying ditty "Truck Driving Girl" from the Phineas and Ferb soundtrack is, in fact, the perfect song to have come on just as we're pulling into the Texas Roadhouse parking lot, and, well...here comes the sun. And I say, it's alright.