Life is…good

Isn’t it frightfully easy to measure the less rosy aspects of life? I often mention how very good I am at complaining–and it’s true: it is practically effortless for me to identify and even catalog all the things that are just Not Right, or even Vaguely Inconvenient.

But…my life is pretty good. Truly.

1) I have a good job that I love. And it is only a ten minute drive from where I live. How is that for a bargain? I’ve read all those depressing articles about long commutes causing problems–no worries on my account.

2) I live in a lovely (albeit generic) apartment. My previous residence on Waldorf St. was NOT ideal, but our new place is pleasantly ordinary. And even a bit beautiful perhaps.

3) I have some truly lovely people in my life who care about me deeply. In the last year I stumbled into a haven of acceptance and support that sustains me still. And that is in addition to my family! I wish everyone was so lucky.

4) I have an amazing husband. He works his ass off to fulfill his dreams. And “I’m a part of that.”

5) I have a reliable and completely paid off car (her name is Hedwig) that gets me from point a. to point b. without worry. The heater works (an absolute must in these frigid Pennsylvanian temperatures), and my little Prius is so fuel-efficient that I justify my endless trips to VA without pang.

6) I have the most incredible family. I miss them every minute. All I want is for us all to live near each other and never move again.

7) I have a succulent that I have NOT killed, in spite of myself.

and 8) today is Saturday, and my Benjamin has a rare weekend off of work. The day is ours. And we get to spend it together. And tomorrow too! What richness.

Now if only I could factor some cake into this equation….

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Target

Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?
Paul Varjak: The mean reds, you mean like the blues?
Holly Golightly: No. The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long, you’re just sad that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?
Paul Varjak: Sure.
Holly Golightly: Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that’d make me feel like Tiffany’s, then – then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name!

I suppose Holly and I have a lot in common. We both get the mean reds for sure. Only, instead of Tiffany’s (a store I pass frequently in the mall, but have never stepped into–I am somehow much too intimidated), I find my solace in the nearest Target.

ray-ban-breakfast-at-tiffanys-500x375c

I am typically an efficient sort of shopper. In fact, I almost race through most businesses, rapidly crossing things off my list and scurrying back to my car, purchases in tow. And yet…one simply cannot rush Target. That store somehow brings out the mosey in me. I step inside, languidly select a basket–knowing full well that I should just cut to the chase and get a cart–and slowly wend my way through the entire store.

Meyers sells candles apparently–did you know? Gardenia is likely my favorite, but the lavender or lemon verbena are suitable substitutes.

Ooooh–a wall tapestry–I could be the kind of person who has a wall tapestry, right?

So many kitchen utensils. So. Many. And I probably need them all, right? Probably.

Cheese plates! Gotta have two of those. Just in case.

Don’t even get me started on the storage bins.

And so you see. Target is my haven. My chevron paradise, located a convenient distance from my home. And I can even munch on popcorn while I walk. Who could ask for anything more.

30 before 30

A friend recently shared her 30 before 30 list, and I found myself completely inspired by its contents.

Here goes:

1) Run a half marathon. A full sounds too intimidating, but I can commit to a half.

2) Visit Hawaii. I don’t even care which island. I don’t discriminate when it comes to paradise. As long as I get to set foot on a volcano, my satisfaction will be complete.

3) Go skinny dipping. Just once. Before I’m old.

4) Watch a meteor shower–even if it means waking up at 2AM. I am frightfully devoted to my sleep, but the night sky is worth every sacrifice.

5) Climb a mountain. Maybe Mt. Kilimanjaro. Maybe just a bunny hill. But something.

6) Go scuba-diving. I don’t think I’ll ever leave my home planet, but dipping beneath the waves of the sea is as close as I’m likely to get to visiting another world.

7) Travel somewhere all by myself. Completely by myself. An entire trip. The very prospect terrifies me. But I think it’s something I’d value forever.

8) Learn to speak another language. I’m leaning toward ASL currently. But Spanish would most likely benefit me more. Then again, I’ve always been entranced by the idea of learning French…

9) Hike part of the AT. Sleep under the stars.

10) Go white river rafting. I don’t think I could ever commit to bungee jumping or sky diving, but I could raft so long as I had my Benjamin by my side. He makes me brave.

11) Completely unplug for an entire week. No phone, TV, or laptop. Sounds like heaven.

12) Go on a cruise. This is maybe more interesting to Benjamin than it is to me, but I admit that I am amenable on this topic.

13) Do a full split. I completely stole this one from my friend’s list. But I’m not ashamed. Because I think it’s an incredible goal.

14) Do a pistol squat. Have you seen those things? Such mastery.

15) Attend a midnight premiere of a movie. Now to find a movie that could tempt me away from sleep…?

16) See a broadway show. On broadway.

17) Read Moby Dick. This goal has been on every New Year Resolution list I’ve made since I was 15. I hope that I can cross it off before I’m 30.

18) Become a decent-ish amateur photographer.

19) Follow a vegan diet for 30 days.

20) Go on a bicycle trip. My husband biked from somewhere in OR to San Francisco after completing his BS. It was an unforgettable experience for him. I’d like to make a memory like that with him too.

21) Find a physical sport. That I like. And then make it a part of my life. I’m currently leaning toward hiking, yoga, or maybe soccer. I suppose croquet doesn’t really count.

22) Learn how to change a tire. All by myself. Well, maybe I could use help learning how to do it, but once I’ve learned it, I want to change a tire completely solo.

23) Set foot on the Great Wall of China. I don’t need to walk the whole thing, but I want to experience it.

24) See the Northern Lights.

25) Own a brand new piece of furniture–not from IKEA.

26) Watch a truly spectacular fireworks show with Benjamin. I hear that Hong Kong and Berlin are good at the whole fireworks thing.

27) Avoid buying bottled water for 365 days. At least.

28) Make a will. Sounds ominous, but apparently it is the mature thing to do.

29) Learn how to ski. UGH. This pastime will likely become my nemesis for years to come. But I shall conquer this. I shall.

30) Have a kid. Or two. Or more? We’ll see.

I am satisfied with my list. And after this, I’ll get going on my 40 before 40 list.

a 2016 ambition

“We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”
–Henry David Thoreau 

Hi

We officially moved into our new apartment. In July. Five months ago. I am still puttering around and arranging (and re-arranging) things, but it feels pleasant enough. Maybe a bit bare, but homey.

Benjamin is busy as always. During my lapse in blogging he studied and passed a very taxing exam–hallelujah. This particular exam caused significant stress to both of us, and I’m tickled as punch that it is OVER. Now we just have to start the process over as Ben prepares for his next colossal exam. <sigh>

Fall was lovely this year. The colors persisted, and even though it’s halfway through November, we have yet to experience any snowfall. Once the snow begins, it’s here to stay until March or April. I found a lovely book at a used bookstore, titled, Impressionists in Winter: Effet de Neige. I am hopeful that it might help me survive the winter ahead.

I am employed at a Montessori school now, and it is a lovely fit for me. I work with infants and toddlers, and not even the endless stream of runny noses and sticky hands can deter my love for the environment. I am happy to have found such a good fit.

I’ll endeavor to update more as time marches on. Blogging makes me quite happy. Sometimes it’s just difficult to find the words, I suppose.

Reading List

I love reading. Every summer, I compile a to-read list. I never finish my list, but I enjoy the summer journey.

I recently came across this (now excessively old) book list, and thought I’d see how well I measure up. Plus this is definitely helpful in making my new list.

Bold = read
Italics = unread

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter series, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. Chronicles of Narnia, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
23. Charlotte’s Web, E. B. White
24. Dracula, Bram Stoker
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Jame Joyce
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
32. The Way of All Flesh, Samuel Butler
33. The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. Life of Pi, Yann Martel
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. Passage to India, E. M. Forster
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald
56. The Crucible, Arthur Miller
57. The Wings of the Dove, Henry James
58. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
59. Howard’s End, E. M. Forster
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Hamlet, William Shakespeare
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. Walden, Henry David Thoreau
64. Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
65. Inferno, Dante Alighieri
66. The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton
67. A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
68. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
69. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
72. Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys
73. The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
76. Atonement, Ian McEwan
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
81. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Remains of the Day, E. M. Forster
85. Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
86. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. The Odyssey, Homer
90. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
91. The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky 
92. A River Runs Through It, Norman Maclean
93. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
96. Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman
97. As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner
98. Oedipus the King, Sophocles
99. Paradise Lost, John Milton
100. The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne

61 out of 100 isn’t bad. But I sure have a long way to go. Here is to a happy, book-filled summer.

Erised

“Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi.”

harry potter

I finished re-reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone today. Revisiting my literary pals always makes me nostalgic, and today the sensation was particularly keen. I was especially struck by Chapter twelve. As I’ve treaded toward my vague idea of adulthood, I have become increasingly enticed by the idea of the mirror of Erised.

“Harry sank down to sit on the floor in front of the mirror. There was nothing to stop him from staying here all night with his family. Nothing at all.
Except —
“So — back again, Harry?”
“Harry felt as though his insides had turned to ice. He looked behind him. Sitting on one of the desks by the wall was none other than Albus Dumbledore. Harry must have walked straight past him, so desperate to get to the mirror he hadn’t noticed him.
“I — I didn’t see you, sir.”
“Strange how nearsighted being invisible can make you,” said Dumbledore, and Harry was relieved to see that he was smiling.
“So,” said Dumbledore, slipping off the desk to sit on the floor with Harry, “you, like hundreds before you, have discovered the delights of the Mirror of Erised.”
“I didn’t know it was called that, sir.”
“But I expect you’ve realized by now what it does?”
“It — well — it shows me my family —”
“And it showed your friend Ron himself as Head Boy.”
“How did you know — ?”
“I don’t need a cloak to become invisible,” said Dumbledore gently. “Now, can you think what the Mirror of Erised shows us all?”
“Harry shook his head.
“Let me explain. The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exactly as he is. Does that help?”
Harry thought. Then he said slowly, “It shows us what we want . . . whatever we want . . .”
“Yes and no,” said Dumbledore quietly. “It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts. You, who have never known your family, see them standing around you. Ronald Weasley, who has always been overshadowed by his brothers, sees himself standing alone, the best of all of them. However, this mirror will give us neither knowledge or truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible.
“The Mirror will be moved to a new home tomorrow, Harry, and I ask you not to go looking for it again. If you ever do run across it, you will now be prepared. It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that. Now, why don’t you put on that admirable cloak back on and get off to bed?”
Harry stood up.
“Sir–professor Dumbledore? Can I ask you something?”
“Obviously, you’ve just done so,” Dumbledore smiled. “You may ask me one more thing, however.”
“What do you see when you look in the mirror?”

–Excerpt From: J. K. Rowling. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

I don’t have an answer yet for myself, but I enjoy letting the thought preoccupy my mind from time to time. What would you see in the mirror of erised?

“I show not your face but your heart’s desire”