Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Great Expectations

Sometimes I feel as though there was a something that I was supposed to do with my life, and I didn't do it.

Wait. That's not entirely accurate.

Sometimes I feel as though there were a lot of people expecting that I would do something with my life, and I haven't done what they thought I would do.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. In an effort not to be completely depressed about being unemployed, I decided to consider it an opportunity. A blessing, even. A chance to look at what's out there for work and think about what kind of work would make me really happy.

What I discovered surprised me. The answers to the question "What fills Yellie's soul" were not what I was expecting. It turns out that what I love the most is very specific ... and also something that I have been unwilling to allow myself to do.

It's silly, really, the way I put the idea of happiness on the back burner when it came to career choices.  I wanted things from employment: money, benefits, security, prestige. Being happy and fulfilled fell off the list a long time ago, because being successful meant having those other things on the list.

Right?

But after a plethora of jobs, I realize this: the amount of money you bring home doesn't matter if your job makes you feel sick to your stomach on a daily basis. Having a fancy title is useless if your job stresses you out so much that your hair is falling out.

I've come to understand that the ONLY thing that I am supposed to do with my life is live it well, by my own definitions.  That's it. That's the thing I'm supposed to do.

That's what success looks like.

I hope we are all successful.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

What's In a Name

I had a birthday last week. I turned ...

... a year older! HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Just kidding. I turned forty-one.

I don't mind being forty-one. I don't actually mind getting older because the alternative is to no longer shuffle along this particular plane of the mortal coil, and I like it here quite a lot. Plus, there were a few times in my life when I thought I might not make it this far, but here I am. Still plugging along.

It's all good, is what I'm saying. Well, it's almost all good.

It's good-ish.

Here's the bit that is stressing me out more than it should be: my name.

You might be wondering, well, what's wrong with your name? The answer, of course, is NOTHING. There is nothing wrong with my name. I have a great name.

It's just that very few people use it. These days, I mostly get called Yellie by, um, everyone. I don't think there's anything wrong with this, because I actually refer to myself as Yellie most of the time. I am very rarely Danielle, even to myself.

But.

As I continue to look for employment (HELLO PLEASE HIRE ME), I have been writing my name -- my actual name, obvs -- on applications. It looks nice there (IT WOULD LOOK NICER ON AN OFFICE DOOR THOUGH PLEASE HIRE ME), and it's a solid name, a dignified one.

"Yellie" is, perhaps, not so dignified. It is, maybe, juvenile and silly.

This is what is stressing me out. Am I too old to still be a Yellie?

Help! Opinions are needed!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Merry Christmas

I don't have a lot of words right now -- but it's Christmas time, and I wanted to share one of my favorite things with you. (Like Oprah. Only ... not Oprah in any way, lol.)

This isn't really a Christmas song, and it's not especially chipper, but it's beautiful and I love it.

Merry Christmas, y'all.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Huh

I was computing away yesterday morning -- lalalalalalaaaaaa -- when the internet decided that it had just plain had enough. Which, okay, that is a thing, but I was in THE MIDDLE of a job application when it went kerflooey. UGH! Which is to say: that's why there was no post yesterday. Which was too bad, because I totally wanted to tell you this:

I had a dream the other night that I was going to a fancy shindig, and I was wearing a super fabulous green dress and killer purple heels. I also had a perfect purple manicure. I was aware that I was dreaming because the shoes were comfortable, and that doesn't happen with stilettos, so that made the whole scenario more interesting, especially when I realized: Apparently, I am taking fashion advice from the Joker. What's that about, brain? What's it MEAN?

Which was when I woke up.

Huh.

Anyway, I hope that you are not too stressed this holiday season, that you can feel all of the love being sent your way, and that you don't  discover that you have accidentally dressed like a DC villain at any holiday parties you attend.


Monday, December 19, 2016

Look Outside

I live right on a river in New Hampshire. My home is beautiful, but the views outside are really what make it spectacular. Living here has given me the opportunity to see fish, otters, muskrats, the occasional beaver, groundhogs, chipmunks, and SO MANY SQUIRRELS, all up close and personal.

While I love all of those critters, what has really kind of changed my life has been the birds.

So. Many. Birds.

When I first moved back to this area, I was walking outside when I interrupted a covey of quail. (And that, by the way, is your trivia of the day... a bunch of quail are called a covey. Who knew?) They were both extremely cute and unbelievably unafraid.  I stood there and they did their little adorable quail thing around my feet, pecking the ground and occasionally looking up at me to make sure I was still being cool.

On the outside I was being cool. On the inside it was more like this: "LOOK AT THE BIRDIES* THEY ARE AMAZING OH MY GOODNESS I CAN'T EVEN SQUEEEEEEEEE."

It was a moment.

Eventually, they scuttled off on their little feet, and I realized, oh, I am going to become that person.  I mean, I've always loved owls, but ALL birds? Birds were going to be a thing now?

Yup.

When I moved into this building, one of the selling points (aside from the fact that I was homeless, haha) was this: the property manager pointed out that a heron had a nest just downstream and it was around a lot.  Usually right outside my windows, in fact.

Sold. To the crazy bird lady.

I have herons, gulls, wood ducks, mallard ducks (I once spent thirty minutes watching a momma duck herd her ducklings about, and oh my!), cormorants, phoebes, nuthatches, cardinals, titmouses (titmice?), woodpeckers, chickadees, hummingbirds -- they come to my windows and drive the cat insane, but they always make my day seem better. Always.

For the past few weeks, we haven't had a lot of birds around. I don't know if it's been the weather or what, but it's been very quiet outside of my windows. We had some weather and the birds started to come back -- new birds I hadn't seen before -- so both the cat and I were happy.

This morning, I was a little depressed. Holidays, unemployment, health, blah blah blah. I stayed in bed longer than I usually do, and then finally got up so I could feed the cat. I did our usual routine: stop in the book nook, take a look out over the water --

-- and that's when the kingfisher landed on the window sill.

I've never seen a kingfisher out there. Not once. And I certainly have never had one show up only to stare me down, which it did. It was magnificent. Feathers puffed out in the cold, regarding me patiently.

I, on the other hand, didn't dare to BREATHE. Or move. I didn't want to do anything at all that would scare it away. I felt as though it wanted to check me out, and I wanted to let it.

It cocked its head to one side, made a little bird noise as if to say, "You'll do," and then flew away.

Y'all, I don't know if there's a lesson or a moral to this story. I do know this: looking outside this morning has set what was fixing to be a terrible day on a much better path, and I think I need to do that more often. So maybe, if your day is a problem, and you feel stuck and sad, you could try looking outside.

It might not help.

But it might.

*I had to take a picture of them and email it to my dad to confirm that they were quail. I didn't used to be as bird-proficient as I am now.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Chasing the Red Dot

Beansie, my beloved and still mourned cat of very little brain, loved very few things more than a nice long game with a laser pointer. She would chase the red dot tirelessly. She was also, more than once, convinced that she had caught it: she would pounce on it with both of her front paws, thinking she was holding it down, and then slowly, cautiously, lower her head down to the floor and lift one paw away, thinking, "I've got you now, red dot" only to discover that it was --GASP-- gone.

Since she was, as I have mentioned, a kitty of very little brain, all it took to raise her spirits back up was the sudden reappearance of the red dot in another location. One glimpse and she no longer was able to recall that she had a one hundred percent fail rate of catching the elusive dot. She only knew that she must chase it because this time ... this time might be the time! It could happen!

And if it didn't, well, she'd just go to sleep.


I've been thinking about Beansie and the laser pointer because the latest round of American politics feels an awful lot like chasing the red dot. I sometimes used to get the laser pointer out to distract Bean, or to herd her in the direction that I needed her to go. Need to get her into a room where I can shut the door behind her? Get the laser pointer -- she'll be so focused on catching the dot that I can get her to zoom into the bedroom and she'll NEVER EVEN KNOW that she's been hoodwinked.

Hmmmmmm. 

While there is so much that I am uncomfortable with in America's politics right now, I almost feel as though the president-elect IS our red dot. American politician are doing some increasingly horrifying things and we, as a country, are willfully blinding ourselves to horrific global events and we're just trying SO hard o catch the red dot. We can't look away from it. Oh, the president-elect is meeting with Kanye? KEEP YOUR EYE ON HIM! In the meantime, please don't look at Aleppo. Please don't look at the "qualifications" of proposed cabinet members or notice the laws that states are passing that restrict abortion rights. Instead: CHECK IT OUT. Dude's on TWITTER! What's his latest tweet?

Catch the red dot.  Don't look away from the red dot.

The thing that Bean never figured out (because 1) she was a cat and 2) she was an intellectually challenged cat) was that the red dot didn't really exist. It was not a thing that could be caught. Every time she lifted a paw to gloat over her successes, she found that she was not holding onto a damn thing. 

And I'm afraid that, if we as a people continue to act like my intellectually challenged cat, we're going to be left in the same position. If we continue to chase that red dot -- if we continue to focus on the wrong part of the story, both globally and nationally --we will not notice as we are herded into a place we didn't want to be and that place? Will be morally and spiritually empty.

We need to focus on more than the red dot.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Patience

The Fella is really, really patient. I know because I test the limits of that patience with some regularity. But how can this be? you ask. You seem as though you are the definition of "delightful" and "easy to live with"! Why thank you, but ...

Nope.

I'm a bit of a neat freak. I'm a perfectionist. I can be a stress ball because of anxiety.

Also -- and this is the super fun one -- I hate being sick. I hate it when I need help or someone to take care of me, so I will run myself into the ground until someone HAS to take care of me because I'm no longer well enough to take care of myself. Yes, I know this is contradictory, but I can't help it. It's part of my charm.

Of all of my, um, charming quirks, it's that last one that probably tries The Fella's patience the most. Having a very neat and clean house isn't so bad. Having your life partner completely in denial about a rampant respiratory infection until she reaches the point where she can't get out of bed? Notably less enjoyable.

Which leads us to conversations like we had yesterday:

"Are you not able to breathe?"

"Who, me?" (For the record, this fooled NO ONE. We were the only two people here.)

"Yes, you. Is your breathing not good? I feel like you're having a hard time."

"No, I'm good." (This pronouncement was followed by a facial expression that he describes as the not-smile. It's supposed to look like a winning smile, but my "opposite of a poker face" can't pull it off.)

"Yeah, that's what I thought."

"No, I'm okay. I'm not coughing or anything. I'm just tired."

"And really cold?"

"Yeah... how did you know?"

"You're shivering. Please go to bed."

"But I don't --"

"YELLIE."

"I don't have time to be sick!"

"When has saying that ever actually kept you from getting sick?"

"This could totally be the first time."

"Go to bed."

"But--"

"Please?"

I went to bed. I feel better today. But the point is, should he have to ask me to take care of myself? No, he should not. Does he HAVE to ask me because I'm a garbage human and he is super patient? Yes, yes he does.

I feel like I won the lottery and he ... got a shitty door prize.