and then

It’s gloomy in San Francisco, and I am also gloomy. But I only want to
think of happy things today. The best way I know of coping with things–and you
may suggest that it is unhealthy, and possibly damaging, and I will not
argue–is to stop thinking about them. At least for a little while. A couple of
minutes, a couple of hours, a day at a time, if I can manage it. I had one of
the best weekends of my life, this past weekend, and I needed that so much. I
wish I could recapture that, but sometimes, you have to get out of bed, and
work, and live your life the way it usually goes. For a little while, I want to
remember that my life usually goes okay, good, great.

For instance, and let’s start with the little things, here.
I am sipping the best latte I have ever had ever in the history of lattes. It
is a small happiness, a cup of steamed milk and a double shot of espresso, and
I am going to take it and run with it. It has got a lot of protein, and I will
go ahead and count that as a bonus. I could use a bonus, right now. Coffee is
possibly liquid happiness in a paper cup.

This morning, I met wonderful Z. for coffee, so early, too early in
the morning to be alive. He is one of the loveliest people I know. We sat in the garden and drank coffee from giant
ceramic mugs and talked about nerdy things like MUDs and World of Warcraft and
cyber anthropology and about lovely things like marriage and babies and
happiness. He says that happiness is something that sometimes surprises you.

Today, I got a phone call on my way to work, and I was sung
to, and it was the happiest thing I can think of, walking across the street and
biting my lip to keep from smiling so hard that strangers would wonder what is
wrong with me. Feeling good, because today, I look good. I’m wearing a dress
that I got for $15, and giant gold hoop earrings; yesterday, I wore
jeans that were tight last week and are loose now. I looked down at my lap,
when I was on the bus, and I marveled that I have a lap; my thighs looked so
lean and long–an optical illusion, since I have stubby legs (but an extremely
enjoyable optical illusion). To be able to marvel on a daily basis at the things I can do
now, and the things that I have–that is something I am always grateful for. I
am grateful that I have things to be grateful for. Happiness is something to be
grateful for.

Last night, I sat out on the patio at a friend’s house, and
we drank wine and we wrote for hours until it got dark. And we drank more
wine, and talked about where we have been and where we are going. K.T. is in a
good place in her life, preparing for a bike ride all the way across Iowa; she says that
happiness is something that you have to work for, though sometimes, when you
are lucky, it falls into your lap. Lying on her couch, eating Trader Joe’s
enchiladas and talking to her about the things we are going to do, and the
places we are going to go, this feeling that things are going to be not just
okay, but more than okay–I am very lucky. Bri solders audio equipment over at
his work table, and he tells us that we’re funny, and we are.

Money has been so, so tight for me, but my check clears tonight,
and I will pay the rent, and catch up on my hospital bills, my credit cards, my
cable bill, and then maybe I will buy myself something shiny. I never buy
myself anything shiny, but the idea that I could–a new gym bag, a pair of
Fluevogs I’ve been eyeing in the store window for weeks now, a summer dress–is wonderful.
It’s summer, and I should have a dress with a wide skirt and skinny straps, in
improbable colors that make it summer when you put it on, definitively and no
doubt about it. I am okay with finding happiness at the bottom of a shopping

I will need a dress for the wedding that is coming up, when
someone I love immensely is getting married to someone she loves immensely, and
I believe in happy endings and forever after and joy and marriage and weddings
and parties and dancing and canapés and wine and karaoke and toasts to the
happy couple, long may they prosper, and may the honeymoon kick ass, and the
happiness keep on coming.

My brother is back from his honeymoon, where he rode on an
elephant and ate street food in Bangkok and
despite my mother’s dire predictions, did not manage to contract the diarrhea
that is rampant in Thailand.
He called me, back for just three hours, and told me that elephants eat
bananas, and that he had the best time in the world. Of course he had the best
time in the world, on his honeymoon. Hearing him so happy, it is something that
makes me happy. My brother’s happiness is something that will always mean the
world to me.

There are so many people in my life who mean the world to
me, and to whom I am important. It startles me, every fucking time, someone
telling me I am important to them, that they think of me and they think I
deserve to be happy. It is a surprise like a birthday, a surprise like a
holiday present you didn’t know you wanted, but suddenly can’t imagine living

My latte is getting cold, but it is still delicious and full
of protein. Things seem very hard right now, but they are getting easier every

4 Replies to “and then”

  1. this is a wonderful way to begin the rest of your life…your reflection put some things in perspective for me and some things i got going on in my own life right now….thanks!

    wish i had a latte……mmmmmm

  2. Sounds like you’re having a proteinential and not so gloomy day. I too think, “out of mind, out of sight”. It’s a good servant, but a bad master or habit. Glad you’ve got scoots again, but you may want to revisit that “happiness at the bottom of a shopping bag” dealie.

    Sorry if my post yesterday sounded harsh. Afterwards, I realized it could be taken that way, while I actually meant it in every way *but* that. The point was to accept feeling crappy as a kind of cleansing stage, prior to moving on. If you try to bypass the stage, or blow through it too quickly too quickly, you will never run it all the way out. Crappiness then, at a time and place not to be determined by you, sneaks back up on you as stealthily as a Basra badger, rips off some part of your happiness and then chomps it down before you even knew it was gone.

  3. I feel you on the paycheck to paycheck to living. I’ve been having to watch my stress on the money issue because it makes me want to over snack.

    Yet, the money will come. It will come in abundance because we followed our dreams filled with all kinds of shiny things ;)

  4. Once a friend wrote me a beautiful story about her life in Spain, about days like you described, about how her lover would bring her luscious chocolates, if only a few because they were so expensive and they were living hand-to-mouth in those days.

    That story still makes me tear up, like this piece did. It’s little pauses in the difficulty that let us breathe. Coffee is good, friends are a blessing, being told you are loved and important is glorious.

    Cool summer breeze and sunshine on your shoulders, friend.

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