Happy lists and more

Random things that make me smile

19. Days off February 24, 2011

Filed under: Happy things — Kristi @ 12:01 pm

The perfect way to start the day.

Today it’s cold outside. I can’t vouch for that personally; I haven’t actually opened my door. But according to the National Weather Service, it’s what you might call frigid : 5 degrees, with a wind chill of 20 to 30 below zero. The map shows my town in a blue zone, which shows the weather people are serious about how cold it is. Not chilly. Not a little nippy. It’s downright freezing.

I say all this to illustrate how delighted I am to have the day off. I don’t have to venture out into that icy weather at all if I don’t want to. I can leave my newspaper in the driveway and let my mailbox freeze shut if I want. And today I might.

Instead of praying my pickup will start and braving the bitter wind during the walk from the parking lot to the office, I can spend the whole day at home with a fuzzy blanket, an even fuzzier cat and a toasty warm pellet stove. I can drink hot cocoa and read or get lost in my latest Netflix acquisition. (“Fantasia.” Don’t laugh — you know you like those dancing hippos.)

In my all-too-often overscheduled life, a day with no demands, no agenda, is a blessing — one I intend to enjoy to the fullest today. There are several things I probably should be doing, but I know I need a break, so I’m hoping I can actually resist the urge to be even semi-productive and spend the day relaxing.

 

18. Good memories February 14, 2011

Filed under: Happy things — Kristi @ 9:15 pm

I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love. -- Mother Teresa

In honor of Valentine’s Day, this is a post about relationships.

Since I’m single today (happy Singles Awareness Day to my single friends — here’s a little love for you), this is really a post about failed relationships. I’ve had several, and frankly, I was the cause of most of the break-ups. And only once or twice did I regret it when the relationship bottomed out.

A quick recap, with names omitted to protect those involved:

My first ever “boyfriend” was in the eighth grade. All my life I’d gone to the same tiny elementary school, where the boys were primarily relatives or might as well have been. My cousin (also my best friend)  and I went to different schools, and we used to write notes and give them to each other at volleyball and basketball practice. Don’t ask me why, since we saw each other at those practices. Note writing was very hip to the middle school crowd.

In September my eighth-grade year, one of those letters contained a scribbled note from a boy who went to school with my cousin: “You are so fine! But you are too tall for me.”

Apparently he got over my lack of petite-ness, because within a week, we were going out. Anyone who has suffered through a middle school relationship remembers the “going out” phase. You didn’t actually go out anywhere, and you usually stopped talking to each other as soon as you were an official couple. This particular guy and I didn’t talk in the first place, so we were able to go straight to the awkward no-talking phase.

We broke up within two weeks.

Then, a few months later, we saw each other at a dance. We were slow dancing to some classic ’90s pop hit — I wish I could remember which one! — and he told me, “You need a boyfriend.”

I made a noncommittal answer. He went on, “A boyfriend like me.”

Suddenly, we were official again. And once again it lasted all of two weeks, when the pressure of our long-distance relationship (I went to another school and lived 12 miles away) was too much.

(A side note: Trying to remember which ’90s pop hit it was has inspired me to create my own sweet song list on YouTube. Hello, Boyz II Men!)

When I started high school (the only high school in my small town), it was like hitting the jackpot. It was like being the only man at a retirement home full of women. I was suddenly surrounded by boys I wasn’t related to! I went a little crazy. That year I made up for all the “going out” I hadn’t done in middle school.

First there was my freshman homecoming date. He did this winking thing that used to give me butterflies. We went out for about a month — until about a week after homecoming, when I decided I didn’t want to invite him to the Sadie Hawkins dance the following month. In true “going out” style, I wrote a break-up note. I’m pretty sure I made a friend deliver it to him in math class.

I went to Sadie Hawkins with a large group. While dancing with the guy I’d gone out with twice in the eighth grade, he asked me who I liked. You know, liked liked. I confessed that I’d had a crush for months on this one particular boy. All the girls in my grade liked him, because he was wicked athletic and could jump out of the gym. After the song ended, the guy I’d been dancing with disappeared, only to return a few songs later.

“He said yes!” he told me.

“Who said yes to what?”

That’s when he told me he’d asked my crush out for me. I was mortified. I would never in a million years ask someone out. But then it hit me: He’d said yes! My crush had said yes! When my new boyfriend asked me to dance a little while later, I could only follow the freshman-dating-approved silence for so long.

“So … are we going out or what?”

My crush replied with a slightly less than enthusiastic, “I guess so.” I’m pretty sure we didn’t speak at all after that, and it wasn’t a huge shock when we broke up a week later. But I had a whole week when I was known as the girlfriend of the boy who was, at that time, my dream guy — every girl’s dream guy! How many girls get to say that?

The next boyfriend didn’t happen for a few months — an eternity for a boy-crazy ninth-grader. I wasn’t thrilled about going out with him, but he was nice. Why not give it a shot? We broke up two weeks later … and then “Titanic” came to our small-town theater. A larger group of us went to see the movie together, and all I can say is that I got caught up in the love story. By intermission, the boy and I were back together.

Unfortunately, I figured out soon after that he really wasn’t the guy for me. I decided to break it off , once again turning to the break-up note to do the dirty work for me. My plan was to give him the note and get on the bus, which was prepared to take me far away on an overnight basketball trip. Alas! I hadn’t factored the time of year into my plot. Before school started that day, he cornered me in the hall … with my Valentine’s Day present. I tried not to accept it, honest I did. But he was insistent, so I finally took it — and handed him the note.

(Note: This should not be counted as a happy memory. It’s probably one of the worst things I’ve ever done to someone. Eventually he got over it; we were even friendly for the rest of our high school careers. But I don’t think he ever really forgave me.)

The next story has an even unhappier ending to wrap up my freshman year. There was an amazing guy in my health class. He was funny, cute, athletic, quirky, smart — everything I wanted in a boyfriend at that time. We started writing notes back and forth (can we please, please, please bring back note writing?) until, in the middle of one of his hilarious notes, he asked me to be his girlfriend.

I still remember reading that note in the hallway, right as lunch was beginning. He was in the middle of a crowd of students meandering toward the cafeteria, and I caught his eye and shouted, “Yes!”

Looking back, he was the best boyfriend I ever had. On our one-month anniversary, he had a single red rose delivered to the school office for me, and he gave me a CD (Third Eye Blind’s self-titled debut, which I still love) and a poem he’d written himself.

But the school year was rapidly ending coming to an end, and I couldn’t see a way to make the relationship work over the summer months. I technically wasn’t supposed to be dating. There was no way I’d be able to explain lengthy phone conversations with a boy to my parents without lying. So I told him I wanted to end it. He talked me out of it, but I was still uneasy. So, at a dance on the last day of school, I broke his heart.

It took a long time for him to forgive me. But that summer, he met the girl he’d eventually marry. They have been together ever since — more than a decade. (Another side note: Holy smokes, I’m old!)

Thus ended my freshman year. I swore off boys entirely, a great resolution that lasted until about the second week of September when a cute senior caught my eye. We became a couple at the homecoming dance and dated for a year and a half — a lifetime by high school standards.

A few months after that breakup, I started dating another guy, also a senior. He made me laugh and thought I was beautiful. We only dated a few months, until he went to college.

I was single my entire senior year, but not by choice. That was a painful year of unrequited love. The story eventually had a happy ending — or a happy middle. We dated my freshman year of college, despite the fact that we were at separate schools. That was the year I discovered Instant Messenger and found out I could survive on four hours’ sleep. (That was also the year my coffee addiction began.) We were together for a year or so, until around the end of our sophomore year. That relationship didn’t technically end; it just fizzled. My heart was still smarting a little when I packed up my life and transferred to a college in a different state for my junior year.

I was single that year. Then I met a guy I fell in love with. Or thought I did. Now I think I was wildly infatuated and far more concerned about what I was getting out of the relationship than what I could bring to it. Still, I had my first broken heart when we broke up, and it took months to recover.

Since then, I’ve been a reluctant mostly proud member of the single ladies group. There have been a handful of guys and more painful life lessons learned but nothing serious.

And tonight, as I sip my glass of wine and think back on the ups and downs of my dating life, I’m happy. I don’t regret any of the relationships, even if I am ashamed of how I treated some of those sweet boys. I don’t regret the heartbreaks or the lessons that probably could have been learned in an easier way. I am happy with where my life is now, and, for the exes I’m still in touch with, I’m excited about where their lives have taken them. Several are happily married or in serious relationships. One recently became the father of a beautiful baby girl, his second child. God has most definitely been good to us.

It is infinitely satisfying to realize that even the relationships that crashed and burned have left a positive mark on my life. The pain is gone. Any old bitterness has disappeared. In their place is a warm glow from good memories.

 

17. Chocolate February 10, 2011

Filed under: Food,Happy things — Kristi @ 9:25 pm

 

I could go for one of these right about now.

Sometimes, after a really long week, a piece of dark chocolate goes a long way. For the few minutes that chocolate lasts, life’s little annoyances don’t matter.

 

To celebrate my deep affection for chocolate’s deliciousness, a haiku:

Darkest chocolate,
Your sugar rush and caffeine
Are like a warm hug.

Tonight I’m celebrating the start of my weekend (a late start, thanks to an evening meeting) with dark chocolate. And beer. But that is material for another post.

On a not entirely unrelated note, GINORMOUS heart-shaped boxes of chocolates can brighten up any workspace. By brighten up, I of course mean completely overwhelm, because this particular box was wider than I am. But that shiny red wrapping did make work a little cheerier.

This wasn’t a very deep post. Frankly, after this week I felt like I was scrambling for something to add to my happy list. But there is always something to be thankful for, even if that something is as frivolous as something to satisfy my sweet tooth. So tonight I’m thankful for chocolate. And tonight, the reminder that there is always something to appreciate makes me happy.

 

16. A bend in the road January 28, 2011

Filed under: Adventures,Books,Happy things — Kristi @ 11:26 am

I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

For years, it seems, the road has stretched out for miles in front of me.

I could see it, a relentless gray highway plowing a straight line through a flat valley. It ran over the occasional small hill, and there was always a chance I could be derailed by a pot hole (this is Montana, after all), but for the  most part, there were no surprises on that road. I knew more or less what each day would bring as I traveled it. It wasn’t the most exciting road, but it was familiar, and I took some comfort in knowing exactly where I was heading.

But now, without warning, there is a bend in my road. I didn’t see it coming, and I have no idea where it might lead. I’m excited about the possibilities, excited to have something to discover again.

At the same time, I’m a little sad. The old road might not have been very thrilling, but it was beautiful. There was always something to see, because I didn’t have to keep my eyes glued straight ahead. I could look around, take in the scenery and appreciate the place I was in. It has been a good place. I’ve loved it.

But the road goes ever on and on, as that good hobbit Bilbo Baggins knew quite well. Don’t laugh. Bilbo might have been a hobbit, but he knew things the Big People would do well to learn.

The following is, of course, from “The Fellowship of the Ring” (one of the greatest books of all time):

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
 

15. Christmas decorations November 29, 2010

Filed under: Christmas,Happy things — Kristi @ 6:15 pm

I wish my living room looked this classy.

Holy tinsel, Batman — it looks like Christmas just threw up in my living room!

After an excellent birthday lunch at my favorite downtown Italian bistro, as well as shopping at the book store and the yarn store (idea: someone should start a yarn/book/coffee shop, so I can just move in and die there), I brought home a Christmas tree and pulled out my box of Christmas decorations. Then I put on “A Christmas Story” and got to work decorating my living room. My stocking is now hung by the chimney — or the pellet stove, at least — with care. There’s another stocking hanging from a shelf by the window,  just in case Santa thinks I’ve been extra good this year. I pulled out my snow globe, the awesome LED tabletop tree my grandma sent me several years ago and the stuffed dog dressed like Santa that my roommate got me a few years ago.

Best of all, I set out the nativity set I bought a few years ago at a Ten Thousand Villages sale. It’s from Indonesia and is carved from a black wood — maybe ebony? It’s so funky, like the Magi listened to jazz on their trip to see the Messiah. I had my annual “oh no, I’ve lost the baby Jesus” moment, but found him, safe and sound.

The only thing I’m lacking is a decorated tree. I need a few more strands of lights and the tree probably ought to thaw a little bit before I attempt to hang ornaments on it. That will happen later this week — and then it will really be Christmas!

 

14. Christmas music November 15, 2010

Filed under: Christmas,Happy things,Music — Kristi @ 8:04 pm

Anyone up for some caroling this year?

Yes, I know it’s November. Yes, I know there are people who insist that no one should ever pull out the Christmas music before December. I even know someone who insists no one should listen to Christmas music until at least Christmas Eve — although I suspect she’s jaded because stores start playing Muzak Christmas tunes around July.

I am not a Christmas music hater. And while I’ll agree there are only so many times a person can listen to the same tired version of “Feliz Navidad,” I think the acceptable Christmas music listening window is far too short.

I love that certain Christmas songs bring back my childhood Christmases with astonishing clarity. When I hear the Jackson 5’s “Give Love on Christmas Day,” Anne Murray’s “Go Tell It On the Mountain” (not a Christmas song, per se, but it was on her 1981 Christmas album) or the Carpenters’ “The Christmas Song,” I’m back in the living room of the house I grew up in, with the tinsel-covered tree in the corner, homemade stockings hung behind the wood stove and sleighbells on the doorknob. I can smell the candle Mom never burned but set out every year (it was inside Santa’s head, which seems weird now). I recapture my belief that if I shake a snow globe, it will snow the next day. I remember the huge white drifts Dad piled up around the driveway, walking to the Grange hall to practice the school Christmas play and the swishing sound my snow pants made when I moved. I remember the excitement that kept me awake on Christmas Eve, scanning the skies for a glimpse of Rudolph’s nose and getting up in the middle of the night to check whether the stockings were still hung.

Christmas isn’t quite as magical as an adult; maybe if I’m ever a mother myself, I’ll be able to recapture some of the whimsy that made Christmas so special as a child. Of course, Christmas now has a deeper meaning — but if I’m really honest with myself, I miss the magic. And so I cut out snowflakes to decorate my house, hang as many lights as I can without crossing into tacky land and crank up the Christmas music way too early.

Expect more Christmas-related posts in the future. This is my favorite time of year!

 

13. When the house is clean November 13, 2010

Filed under: Happy things — Kristi @ 2:44 pm

If only Phoebe would help me clean instead of hiding from the vacuum cleaner.

Cleaning the house is NOT my favorite activity. It’s right up there with going to the dentist and unpacking after a trip. I might not hate house cleaning as much if I did it regularly, but frankly, I have better things to do than keep my house perpetually dust free. And I don’t know anyone who would go around my house pointing out stray dust, cat hair or the load of dishes waiting to run through the dishwasher. So I put off cleaning until my house reaches the point where I can’t stand it any more and spend an hour or two freaking out the cat with the vacuum cleaner. (I can’t help it if she’s a chicken.)

As fun as that is, there is no better feeling than when the house is finally clean and I’m freshly showered, because I’ve inevitably worked up a sweat working over my disgusting place.

It took a good two hours to get the house into shape today, but now I get to enjoy the sight of a clean, shiny place. I even imposed a stay-off-the-furniture rule that my cat isn’t taking too kindly to; we’ll see how long we can keep it up before her pitiful meowing wears me down.

Best of all, today’s house cleaning involved rearranging my furniture, because in exactly 13 days, there will be a Christmas tree in here. Now if only it would snow …